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Pain when playing mandolin.

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Aug 14, 2020 - 11:59:50 AM
281 posts since 6/21/2007

I’ve been playing some Mando for a couple of years. Recently, when I play any type of chord on the mando, I get a pain in my elbow and the muscles on both sides of it, and it stays for days. I don’t get it when I play a melody line or playing fiddle, banjo, or guitar.
I have switched over from light strings to extra light with no avail. If anyone has had that experience or any other insights I’d be glad to hear them.
Thanks

Aug 14, 2020 - 12:57:09 PM

1797 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by stumpkicker

I’ve been playing some Mando for a couple of years. Recently, when I play any type of chord on the mando, I get a pain in my elbow and the muscles on both sides of it, and it stays for days. I don’t get it when I play a melody line or playing fiddle, banjo, or guitar.
I have switched over from light strings to extra light with no avail. If anyone has had that experience or any other insights I’d be glad to hear them.
Thanks


That's too bad. I have played mandolin for a long time, and occasionally take on a student. One thing to check could be your thumb position. My student was wanting to put it around the back of the neck which can strain your hand. It's a lot more relaxing to cradle the neck with your thumb laying along the top side, and the neck resting somewhere around the 1st joint from your left hand on the other side. There shouldn't be tension in your hand in this position, and just enough to press down strings when you play.

Aug 14, 2020 - 2:50:53 PM

4847 posts since 9/26/2008

Sounds like tendonitis (tennis elbow or golf elbow). Look those up and see if either jibes withs your symptoms. I am still recovering from the tennis version in my R elbow from overuse at work. Until the covid-19 BS is over, I'll likely not fully recover because the work I do was done by employees that are no longer coming in (special needs folks who are at high risk). There are PT exercises...

Aug 14, 2020 - 2:51:34 PM

4847 posts since 9/26/2008

Could also have to do with the mandolin set up.

Aug 14, 2020 - 3:00:08 PM

193 posts since 6/11/2019

I'm no instructor, and this probably doesn't have anything to do with elbow, but I'll throw out some things that make sense to me, mostly derived from fiddle technique:

- use only enough pressure to stop (fret) the note, and no more; also just enough thumb pressure to counter it; chords tend to make us press too much; there's exercises to help reduce finger pressure

- body of mando should be more to left side of your body (assuming you're right-handed) so that the fretting forearm and hand are straight with no bend at the wrist, just like fiddle; finger reach is greater thataway, and all the leverage is square on your "big" knuckle joint, which is the strongest; if the instrument is too far right, the fretting hand is scrunched up and crooked; I even go so far as to point the head out a little so neck is at an outward angle

- I put my thumb just like I do fiddle--just poking above fingerboard; neck not touching the palm

Hope you get over it; mando is like a bonus instrument for a fiddle player

Edited by - Flat_the_3rd_n7th on 08/14/2020 15:01:09

Aug 14, 2020 - 4:09:07 PM
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206 posts since 4/22/2009

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

Could also have to do with the mandolin set up.


Yes. I'd crank the strings down as low as they can go without rattling on the frets. This may cause you to play with less force, which is a good idea. Ideally you'd have the frets leveled and crowned first if they need it. [Grooves in the frets by the strings indicate they need leveling]

Edited by - Joel Glassman on 08/14/2020 16:18:11

Aug 14, 2020 - 7:33:57 PM
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89 posts since 6/8/2020

Sounds like a tendinitis type thing to me as well - repetitive motion related. One thing that’s important is to sit or stand up straight. No hunching. Perhaps should take a break from the instrument for a little while - play more fiddle.

Aug 14, 2020 - 8:00:23 PM

1797 posts since 8/27/2008

That's too bad. I have played mandolin for a long time, and occasionally take on a student. One thing to check could be your thumb position. My student was wanting to put it around the back of the neck which can strain your hand. It's a lot more relaxing to cradle the neck with your thumb laying along the top side, and the neck resting somewhere around the 1st joint from your left hand on the other side. There shouldn't be tension in your hand in this position, and just enough to press down strings when you play.

My comments earlier had to do with hand tension, but apply as well to your elbow. Tension in your hand doesn't exist by itself. Just clench your fist and feel the tension in your tendons up toward your elbow. You need to play with the least tension necessary. If you eliminate everything unnecessary and still have pain, you should take a break for a good while to allow the inflammation to subside. Tendonitis can become chronic so it's better to stop and heal. Then proceed with caution.

Aug 15, 2020 - 7:27:38 AM
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Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2564 posts since 2/3/2011

My experience with tendonitis is that it takes far longer to heal than other mundane injuries. Longer, as in 6 months or longer. Working through the pain will only aggravate the injury and increase its duration. I ate far, far too many Ibuprofen with breakfast, lunch, and dinner and iced my forearms down a lot back in the day. Shoving them in a snowbank works wonders if you happen to have one handy. Not a cure, just relief. Rest is the cure.

This is only relevant if you have, in fact, got tendonitis. Mando doesn't aggravate mine.

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