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Old 12-03-2008, 03:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default guitar cramp...

Hey, just wondering if i could get some advice on over coming sore hand sydrome when playing long acoustic sets...
After about an hour of playing big bar chords on my acoustic it starts to get a bit weaker...and advice??
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Old 12-03-2008, 04:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sore hands - are you getting tired and weak hands or do they hurt or all of those? I once heard that you could put glue on your fingertips to prevent those from aching, but I never tried it.

I guess just playing and playing till you get stronger and get more robust hands.

Acoustic sets, do you mean when you play concerts?
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Last edited by tore; 12-03-2008 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 12-03-2008, 04:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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change up your set or take more breaks.

i don't mean to be snide but really, if your getting cramps while playing you NEED TO STOP PLAYING FOR A BIT. otherwise you WILL end up with bigger issues down the road.

a few other options you could try might be alternate tunings or alternate chord voicings, the down side being that you would have to relearn your tunes. an open tuning usually allows for full chords to be played with a single finger but it's a bit of a hassle.

alternate voicings on the other hand are really nifty and can be applied to anything. they also force you to change the way you fret your chords so there would be more motion in your left hand and more blood flow through your wrist and therefore less cramping. what i mean by an alternate voicing is the same theory behind typical bar chords but using a different chord shape than E or A. i like C and D quite a bit.

for example

e---------
B-10------
G-9-----9-
D-7----11-
A-7----12-
E------12-

it sounds slightly different but both of those are still A chords, first with a D shape then with a C shape. it might not always work for every song but it might be something to keep in mind to change things up in the middle of a big bar chord fest.

you might also want to try some warm up exercises as well. there are plenty of stretching routines on the net, those for pianist would apply to guitarists just as well.

there's also a fencing exercise that's supposed to be really good for building up your hand and wrist strength. just need to lay a few pieces of newspaper flat on a table and place your hand in the center then ball it up while keeping your hand as flat as possible.
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Old 12-03-2008, 04:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I guess you may already have thought of this, but ..

Depending on what you're playing, a capo might help. I use them during concerts myself. Then I don't have to make as many bar chords as I otherwise would.

The cheap ones work just fine for me.

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Old 12-03-2008, 05:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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yeah when i play concerts..its not my findgertips or my hand really just the muscle in my thumb that gets weaker as the night goes on...i guess i could make it stronger somehow?
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Old 12-03-2008, 05:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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the fencing exercise i mention would strengthen your thumb if that's really the only issue. wouldn't hurt to mention it with your doctor next time you have a check up. make sure there's no early carpal tunnel syndrome taking place and getting recommendations on stretches and strengthening exercises.
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Old 12-10-2008, 02:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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As already said, capos are great for helping out with bar chords.

I used to experience the same thing after playing long acoustic sets. My thumb, hand and wrist would get quite sore and sometimes I would get quite bad cramps. The best thing I have done to help this is however is to stretch and strengthen those muscles and tendons that get tired. Each day before and after playing I stretch the sore parts and gradually I think they have become more flexible and stronger. If the pain is persistent and worsening it's probably best to talk to a physician so that you don't cause an injury.
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I get cramps in the muscle between my thumb and index finger. Its kinda the shin splints of the guitar playing world. I do a lot of jazzy bar chord work so that muscle tends to get a heavy workout. I friend once told me bananas and advil as a cure for that. Keep plugging at it. Stretching your hands before and during a set helps too.
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Old 12-13-2008, 11:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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well i know bar chords take a lot of hard pressing, but if at all possible try not to squeeze so hard with your hand! or instead of squeezing with the end of the thumb, try more at the base. (but i'm certainly no expert!)
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