Printer-friendly version

Tendinitis: Pain, Patience, Recovery

Jim Hastings

Written by
Published: October 2, 2014 at 3:57 PM [UTC]

Are violin-playing and lifting weights incompatible? From personal experience, I answer no -- they’re not in conflict. Both activities have long been part of my life.

For working out, my sequence is WALK, STRETCH, LIFT. For violin, it’s WALK, STRETCH, PRACTICE. Get the blood pumping first. Stretching is easier -- and safer -- when you’re warmed up this way. And, just as I stretch and walk between sets in the gym, I pause fairly often during music practice to bend, stretch arms and neck, and walk the floor.

“Don’t work too hard” and “Don’t kill yourself” are often sarcastic statements, typically aimed at slackers. Well, the two people who aimed these words at me -- my fourth violin teacher and my first personal trainer -- intended me to take the words literally -- not as sarcastic at all. My violin teacher knew I was a practice geek and prone to over-practice. And my trainer knew I was the eager-beaver type and would train too long at a stretch -- and too heavily -- if he didn’t apply the brakes.

It’s easier than you might think to carry even these worthwhile pursuits, music and fitness, to extremes and get your life -- and tendons -- out of whack. I learned this the hard way in mid-summer 2013, when I developed a case of tendinitis in my left wrist.

It didn’t take me long to figure out what had brought this on -- overdosing on some hard-core technical reviews -- Sevcik, Schradieck, Dancla. I strongly believe in these studies. But from the time I was a kid, the geeky side of me always managed to find fun in doing them; and this time, I definitely overdosed on them -- before I realized what was happening.

The pain didn’t stop my playing, although I backed off on drills like Dancla’s School of Mechanism, Op. 74, Nos. 8 and 15. Ditto for Kreutzer No. 9.

In gym workouts, I suffered more. Most exercises were still fine, but attempting a biceps curl with the straight bar was too painful. Ditto for forearm wrist curls. I just couldn’t do them.

Before calling a specialist to help me deal with the pain, I decided first to see if changing the grip angle and lightening up on the weights would help. Both steps did help. For the short term, angled bars on a machine allowed me to work the biceps without pain or over-stressing the wrists. Then, too, I was about due for a week off the gym, which I take every 6-8 weeks. That helped still more. The tendinitis decreased, and the problem soon cleared up.

I have deliberately held back sharing my experience for over a year to be sure my recovery held firmly. It did.

Some of the best preventive measures I’ve found are moderation, balance in activities, and attention to posture and proper form. If you feel pain, stop. Pain is nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong. If it persists, get professional help.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings
Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings

National Symphony Orchestra
National Symphony Orchestra

Violins of Hope
Violins of Hope Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Borromeo Music Festival

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine