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sore L.thumb base on new-ish EC player


Bill Geiger
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I've been teaching myself EC for about 2 years now. Started on a Jackie, worked through most of Wim Wakker's tutorial; recently upgraded to a Morse Geordie Tenor and I LOVE it--sounds great, easy action, looks fabulous, and a bit lighter & smaller than the Jackie. I practice about 5 evenings a week, about 40-60 minutes a pop. Some fun short tunes from NESI 2021 and elsewhere, but mostly hymns (and now, Christmas carols). Usually seated when playing, resting L. end of concertina on L.leg.

The point is: in the last month, I've developed some fairly significant pain in the base of my left thumb. Never really had arthritis before (I'm 64), but I'm thinking this might be that. Is sore a much of the time--not just when playing--and some routine daily tasks (e.g., wringing out a washcloth) will produce a sudden sharp pain. Any other EC players experience this? Any suggestions? (Yeah, go to the doctor. But he'll probably say "well, try stop playing the concertina". Not interested in that solution.)

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Adding wrist straps can work wonders taking some pressure off the thumbs on the draw.

 

My sympathies.  At 70 and fly fishing hard I looked at my right hand and thought, "Wow!  Look how developed my thumb muscles are getting!"  Nope!  Arthritic thumbs!

 

I'm with Wunks as far as short sessions with the concertina, building surrounding muscle strength and playing smart, i.e. employing good technique.

 

There is a topical (Voltarin is one brand containing diclofenac) which you might ask your doctor about.  (Sometimes the pros can really help)  For a whole day of fishing it allows my thumbs to stay in the game. 

 

Greg

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Bill,

 

Another thing is to let me watch you play sometime soon and be sure your hands are in a neutral position. [Speaking as someone sidelined from playing for a whole year by repetitive stress injury two decades ago.]

 

But arthritis can also do this (an x-ray can be diagnostic). As Greg says, knowing the cause will help zero in on the treatment faster without trial and error. And maybe you should try my Lachenal with the wrist straps again to see how that feels.

 

You have lots of company here I suspect (which will produce a great variety of proposed solutions - that's the Concertina.net response to every question).

 

Ken

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A second "thumbs up" for Voltarin.  Another thing about practice time;  After around  30 min. or so, especially when trying to push through the distraction,  I can over shoot my brain's working capacity, sort of like flooding the carburetor (remember those?).  

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If  you get  a  sharp  pain at  the base of  your  thumb  you  should  get  it  checked out.  I've  just  been through all this.  Playing  the  EC  for  50 years  and  never  any  problem  with  my  thumbs, even  with  some  mad  days  of  very  long sessions  where my  fingertips  were sore the following day.....  but  now   , north  of  70 years,  I  am  struck  down  with  Carpal Tunnel  Syndrome. 

It  started  with  a  diminuation  of  the sense of  touch  but  since  August  it  has  been  getting worse,  with lots of pain and  numbness.  Finally  went  to  my  doctor  who  sent  me  for  Electro-nerve  testing  and  I  have a servere  case, needing surgery,  in my  left  hand,  but  the  doctor  also  found  the  same  problem  just  beginning in my  right hand. 

 

I  have  waited  two  painful  months  for  an  appointment  and  now  I  must  wait  another two  to  meet  the surgeon.

My  point  is  ;  don't  delay    , get it  checked out.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Might I also suggest you make sure you're not clenching the left side tightly between thumb and little finger, but hold it loosely and try to relax your thumb as much as possible. An hour a day for five days is potentially a lot of stress. Maybe playing quieter will also lessen the force on the thumb. 

 

I had to temporarily give up EC due to arthritic pain in the farthest (distal) thumb joints on both sides, but have had no problems whatsoever with Anglo since the finger movements pretty much follow the natural curve of the fingers plus there's no pressure on the thumbs.


Gary

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I AM LUCKY ENOUGH NOT TO HAVE THE THUMB PROBLEM MYSELF AND SORRY OT HEAR YOU ARE HOWEVER EXPERIENCING DISCOMFORT.

I have payed free reed instruments now for 34 years and tend to hold my own  concertina very loosely in the hands; in fact I put my whole hands inside the straps altogether, not with the thumb outside like normally done.  This gives me a much freer way of playing, and less pressure on fingers too! I sit and rest the instrument on my lap which lessens the potential pressure on my  fingers also.l

To say that my odd way of putting whole hand inside straps means that - Also you could theoretically use more fingers than usual to play with in this manner! [even the thumb if you so desired!]  Try relaxing more  when you play; as there can a tendency to tense up in the hands when playing music, which can lead to tightness and possible problems too!  Let me know how you get on; I hope you will continue to practice in meantime. 

Simon [new member as of 31 December 2021].

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It's occured to me with English system being different to my Anglo style layout, that the thumb strap on English concertina is one design in its makeup that could be  improved.

The human thumb was not meant to be imobile for long times, we use thumb every day and if fixed in one place, then no wonder cramp or stiffness can result ( at any age)!

Perhaps a longer strap might work? With whole hand underneath for support? Not just the thumb fixed into one place?

 

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9 hours ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

It's occured to me with English system being different to my Anglo style layout, that the thumb strap on English concertina is one design in its makeup that could be  improved.

The human thumb was not meant to be imobile for long times, we use thumb every day and if fixed in one place, then no wonder cramp or stiffness can result ( at any age)!

Perhaps a longer strap might work? With whole hand underneath for support? Not just the thumb fixed into one place?

 

You might find this article interesting:

https://www.concertinajournal.org/articles/no-thumb-straps-no-finger-rests-but-it-is-an-english-a-personal-journey/

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I read the article via the links you put in and was very interesting; how the straps were altered and adjusted in a different way to usual. It reminded me of how I use my own Anglo style instrument, also in a very unusual manner .. loosely fitted over the whole hand, rather than with thumb outside!  I've always done it this way, and it gives great mobility to the fingers.  And you could, theoretically use thumb more, on left hand, on the keys.  [ although I don't do this as it involves stretching too much].

Image attached show my hands seemingly loosely fitted inside the straps!

20220103-014254smallerblur edged.jpg

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