How Can I Relieve Pain in My Hands from Playing an Instrument?

Whether you’re a bassist or a pianist, you, like many musicians, may experience pain and discomfort while playing your instrument. Unfortunately, pain can affect anyone, from professional musicians to hobbyists. Some musicians even suffer acute injuries from overwork, or long-term conditions from years of playing.

Hand pain is one of the most common types of pain for musicians, especially those who play:

  • Guitar or bass
  • Violin or viola
  • Cello
  • Drums
  • Piano

Playing an instrument should be a fun and rejuvenating experience, so it’s important to understand how to manage the pain often times associated with the experience. Learn what you can do to target different sources of hand pain and get the relief you need to enjoy a long life of playing your instrument.

Common Types of Hand Pain Musicians Experience

Musicians can experience many types of pain in their hands. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Tremors or shakiness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Swelling
  • Grip strength issues
  • Fingers getting stuck in a bent position
  • Soreness and aches

The types and severity of your hand pain can depend on what’s causing it. You may experience a painful acute injury while playing your instrument, such as from overworking your muscles or hyperextending your fingers. Musicians perform the same motions over and over again, and repetitive motion can cause injuries over time, like:

  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Trigger finger
  • Arthritis

How to Alleviate Hand Pain as a Musician

Luckily, there are many options for relieving hand pain and preventing it from returning. Here are five steps you can take before, during, and after playing your instrument to alleviate hand pain:

1. Always Warm Up and Cool Down

There’s a reason your music teacher made you do warm-ups before every practice and performance — these exercises ready all the muscles you use to play your instrument before you jump right into a lesson or jam session.

So, make time to stretch out your fingers and palms. And don’t forget to loosen up your wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, and upper back. Injuries or stiffness in these body areas can contribute to or cause hand pain for musicians. 

After playing, you should stretch again to help cool down your muscles and promote healing after all the repetitive motion. Add these warm-up and cool-down exercises to your routine:  

  • Roll your wrists in multiple clockwise and counterclockwise circles.
  • Slowly roll your neck and shoulders in clockwise circles, then counterclockwise.
  • Rub your palms together to warm up your muscles.
  • Gently massage your palms and fingers to alleviate tension.
  • Hold your palms together and press through your fingers to get a deep stretch in your hand.

2. Take Breaks During Practice

Overwork is one of the biggest culprits of hand pain for musicians, as it can lead to chronic pain and swelling. You could even acutely injure yourself if you consistently overwork your body while playing.

That’s why it’s so important to take short breaks regularly when you practice. If you experience pain while playing, consider it a signal to stop and rest. (You might even sneak in some quick stretches during a performance!)

3. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

One of the best ways to prevent pain and promote healing in the body is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Eat a well-balanced diet filled with essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Your muscles need these nutrients to stay strong and combat injuries. Stay well hydrated, especially while practicing or playing your instrument. Dehydration can lead to cramping or make it harder for your muscles to recover and rest. Stretch your whole body regularly to promote flexibility and alleviate tension throughout the body that could contribute to or cause hand pain while you play your instrument.

4. Use Typical Pain Relief Methods

You can also treat musician hand pain as you would other forms of muscle soreness. For example, try alternating between ice packs and heating pads to reduce swelling and ease tightness. You might also take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation and ease pain.

You could treat your pain with topical pain relievers, like medicated lotions or the pain-relief medicine found in Nufabrx compression sleeves and weighted neck wraps.

5. Try a Compression Sleeve

Compression sleeves aren’t just for athletes and gym buffs — they’re also great for musicians dealing with hand pain. You can wear a compression sleeve during practice and between sessions while you rest. There are a variety of compression sleeves on the market, including medicine-infused sleeves from Nufabrx, which deliver pain-relieving medicine directly into your skin.

Here are a few compression sleeves that may help alleviate hand pain for musicians:

  • Arm compression sleeves, go around your bicep, elbow, forearm, and wrist. They help with elbow flexion and extension as well as bicep support. Drummers, guitarists, cello players, violinists, and other musicians who use their arms heavily to play their instrument could benefit from this sleeve. For example, a guitarist can alleviate wrist and hand pain caused by forming chords and bicep and elbow pain from strumming.
  • Wrist compression sleeves, cover the lower part of the forearm, wrist, and top of the hand. They are best for pianists, guitarists, violinists, and other musicians who use their wrists and fingers to play. This sleeve gives wrist and hand support that helps reduce pain caused by strumming or picking a guitar or supporting your wrists while you play the piano.

Even a small amount of compression can help ease the symptoms of a musician’s hand and provide temporary relief.

Try Nufabrx for Your Musician’s Hand Pain

Nufabrx medicine-infused compression sleeves provide just enough compression and support to administer pain-relieving medicine directly into your skin. Additionally, the HealthWear® technology provides the optimal controlled dose to offer temporary pain relief for musicians of all kinds.

Find the Nufabrx compression sleeve that best fits your needs so you can play your instrument and make music – without pain.

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