Sunday, June 12, 2011

Playing Hurt

I've done it before...more than I should admit, really. After three years of drum corps, you tend to develop a tolerance to pain/discomfort that's unhealthy. I can't tell you how many times I heard people being asked, "Are you hurt, or hurting?" if they tried to sit out. No one ever asked me that. I never missed a rep in 3 summers. If you're not familiar with drum corps, think marching band but with all the athleticism of any sport. I ran more when I marched with Jersey Surf than I did when I played field hockey in high school. Check it out on

Naturally, my experience there has carried over to practicing in general- you think, "I just have to push through a few more minutes..." Then a few more minutes pass, and soon you've pushed yourself too far. I nearly did this tonight; I was playing a right hand study from the Opperman daily studies and my right wrist kept popping weirdly, and I thought, "Just a little more..." I had to make myself stop and go home. No point in practicing technique when it's just going to hurt me.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently working the kind of manual labor job that I've always dreaded. Being a pianist/clarinetist my entire life, it's not like my wrists had never hurt, but starting a few weeks ago, my left hand started feeling asleep and both wrists have had a dull pain that doesn't really go away. I've always been terrified of carpal tunnel, but now it seems to be a legitimate threat. I'm going to the doctor to get it checked out tomorrow, but even if she says it's likely carpal tunnel, I have no choice but to carry on at my job. In the mean time, I've purchased this book, at the suggestion of a fellow blogger/musician on Twitter.

As far as treatment, I had been using heat to try to relax my wrists, but with limited success. Tonight, I finally iced them and it actually seems to be helping. Also, I'm planning on restructuring my days- my daily ritual has been work 9:30-6, make dinner, go practice. I'm going to start waking up at 7 to practice in the morning, then my body can have all evening to recover. We'll see how all this works, and what my doctor has to say tomorrow.


  1. Alyssa,
    Have you tried the homeopathic remedy, Arnica? They sell it in many different forms at health food stores. I prefer Arnica gel and the capsules made by Boiron. It's for muscle strain/trauma and has worked wonders for me every time I've pushed myself just a little bit too far.

    Take care of yourself!


  2. Hi Alyssa,
    I'm sure you have all sorts of recommendations for your current problem, but I need to add mine. I work with a technique for musicians called Body Mapping, which is based on the Alexander Technique ( The only certified practitioner in PA is Kay Hooper, whom I know quite well. She's 2 hours away in Selinsgrove, but maybe it would be worth the trip once, or at least a call. I don't believe we should have these physical issues as musicians, and I just don't want you to be talked into an "easy" surgery!

  3. Erica- as I mentioned on Twitter, I do have the arnica the past, I generally have been successful with it! Back in 2005 I had surgery on a toe, and took the capsules afterward. I feel like it helped my recovery along quite a bit.

    Harold- Many people I follow on Twitter have mentioned body mapping and Alexander Technique...I think it's something I'm definitely going to check out at some point in time. I'm glad that you mentioned Selinsgrove- I live in Lancaster, but I'm actually from Elysburg which is less than half an hour from there. I think it'll definitely be worth a visit when I'm home. As for surgery, I really hope to avoid it at all costs. My father had it done within the last year, and it's not something I'd want to deal with at all.

    Thank you both for your comments and recommendations!