Sunday, August 31, 2008


After electrocution, tendinitis, or tendonitis, is the worst thing that can happen to a guitarist. Electrocution is almost out of your hands (no pun intended) thanks to the unpredictable poor wiring situations in any given venue. I've only been shocked badly once, and it resulted in soreness and swelling in both my hands, wrists and arms. Now I bring my own surge protector and unplug it the way you're not supposed to... by yanking on the cord about two feet from the plug.

Tendinitis is your own fault. I started feeling soreness in my left hand back in college, when I'd practice upwards of eight hours a day and did a lot of instant messaging with my long distance girlfriend, usually with a guitar in hand while I waited for the response. In the long run it all worked out. I got a lot better at guitar and married that girlfriend. But that soreness comes back every now and again. This week was the first time I felt it in about 4 years, likely from playing a lot of mandolin. Those tiny frets can be tricky.

The best way to prevent tendinitis is to warm up properly, so now I've dedicated the first hour of my day to running a series of exercises and then some free improvising to a metrenome. The goal is relaxation. Tension is the enemy. Relax the right hand, and the left hand follows. There are a number of methods aimed at preventing these sorts of injuries, but the basic message is to relax, find the most comfortable position for playing, and follow the path of least resistance.

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