September 10, 2010

Dreaded Wrist Pain

If you're a musician (or a fighter, or a knitter, or a tennis player, etc...), you know how alarming wrist pain can be.  You start to notice a dull achey stripe down the center of the inside of your wrist, and the first thing that pops into your head is "OMG CARPAL TUNNEL!!!  I'LL NEVER PLAY THE HARP/SWORD/NEEDLES/RACKET AGAIN!!!"

This is usually not the case.  Normally, after a short freak-out, I just take this as a sign that I've been practicing too much and my wrist is tired.  I put the harp down for a day or two, and when I pick it back up, I concentrate on playing with a nice, healthy technique (WRISTS STRAIGHT!).  Some people will wear wrist braces for a while to make sure they're not torquing their wrists doing some other random thing.  This is smart.

So yesterday, I noticed the tell-tale wrist pain.  "WTF?" I thought, irritated.  "I've been living in unpacking-new-house-land for the past week!  I haven't touched my harp OR my needles OR my rapiers for at least that long!  Unfair!"  Seriously, the unpacking hasn't even been of the heavy-lifting variety.  By the end of the day, the pain was shooting all the way up to my shoulder.  So not cool.

So here's a tip for people who have alarming, unexplainable wrist pain - examine how you sleep!  Turns out I was sleeping on my side with my bottom shoulder thrust forward underneath me and my arm curled up around me with my wrist hooked around my neck.  It was ugly.  Trying to find another comfortable way to sleep was uglier.  But hey, now my wrist feels fine!

It's something most of us don't think about, but really - when you spend 8 hours every night ganking the buhjeezus out of your wrist, good harp technique will only get you so far.  And if you sleep as hard as I wish I did, try wearing wrist braces to sleep one night, and see what it won't let you do.  It's enlightening.

1 comment:

  1. Good idea about the wrist braces at night... at least to see what's what for a few habitual poses. I've had sleep be the culprit many times with chronic hand/finger/wrist/arm/elbow pain. So nice to know it's not arthritis.

    There's a recommendation for a sleep position in my yoga book, and it works great for me: sleep on your side, with back straight, bedside arm bent up in front, and topside arm straight down the upper side of your body. Oh, yeah, legs--one straight and one bent.