Knee pain in 18 year old drummer.
16 year old drummer with concerns about injuries.
Stick size question.
Left hand on hi-hat playing.
Wrist pain in Australia.
Hand pain in Arizona.
Thigh Pain with Bass Drum Use.
Severe Calf Pain during Show.
Wrist pain Practicing 2-3 hours a day.
The information presented here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care, nor it is to be considered professional advice for a particular individual. Please seek professional care before under going any treatment. If you have a serious condition or a condition which has failed to improve in two to three weeks, you should seek professional health care.
I am an 18 year old
drummer and I have been experiencing knee pain while playing
the kick drum. I have some tension on the bass pedal in order
to develop leg strength.
Q. I'm a 16 year old drummer from Norway. I practice for about 3-4 hours a day, and I'm finishing school in a year, and that will probably result in 6-8 hours practicing a day (since I'm going to study jazz at a music conservatory). Lately I've been pretty scared of these drumming injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome etc. How can I prevent these injuries from happening? I read an article about a drummer that got this so-called "tennis-elbow", that really destroyed his career. I've been playing the drums for quite some time now, and I have a very powerful discipline. Therefore I can push myself to... well, the extreme! It's especially an exercise that I do, that is practicing on a pillow with phonebooks under my arms for maximum intensity of muscle training for the wrists and forearms.
I compliment you on your desire and
willingness to commit yourself to drumming.
Before getting into any details, remember;
drumming is an art and like other arts will
benefit from life experience. In other
words...make sure you find some balance in
your life. Intellectual, athletic, cultural,
social....these all can add balance and make
you a more well rounded person. These
activities give physical and mental balance
to your life.
Don't limit yourself to
drumming only or you will have little to say
with your art!.
A.This question requires that we discuss several things.
First off, modern amplified music music creates interesting problems for drummers. You should however never change your technique to increase your volume. During rehearsals it is best that your band mates play to the level of your drums. This way you can play with the same techniques and intensities in both rehearsal and In live miked performances. Any volume problems in a miked performance can be adjusted by the sound personnel.
Secondly, I do not recommend using a larger stick to produce a "harder" hit. You should use a stick which fits your hand and suits your technique. Of course you can use a slightly larger or smaller stick from time to time. I would avoid dramatic changes in stick size however. Good technique is all about control, relaxation, timing and endurance. Good technique will enable you to play longer and better for years to come.
Q. I have seen you play and I like your playing .............I especially like your playing time with your left hand on the hi-hat and right hand on the ride cymbal. How did you start doing this and are there any benefits to doing this?
A. Thank you for the compliment! Only other drummers notice technique things like this! I started playing time with my left hand on the hi-hat when I was young, after about 10 years of playing like this I learned to play either hand on the hi-hat. This has enabled me to build better independence and left handed control and power. This also allows me to spread the work load between my hands, decreasing the chance of right hand/wrist overuse injury. I would estimate that playing time on the hi-hat encompasses over 50% of the playing time in modern music. The remainder of the time is spent playing time with my right hand on a ride cymbal. I have found this to be a great way to save energy, share work load between the hands, and to offer subtle variation in tone and rhythm. Another side benefit is that with the left hand playing time on the hi-hat, my right hand is free to play across the kit or to show boat!
I highly recommend this exercise to other players! Many other great players use left handed ride hi-hat techniques including John Blackwell, Rayford Griffon and Carter Beauford.
I'm in Sydney, Australia.
About 5 years ago I started drumming in
Germany. Unfortunately after 2 years of
practicing (I had a professional teacher as
well) my right wrist started hurting. Just
simple playing on the HH caused severe pain.
My left wrist was fine (probably because it
didn't have the high repetitions like the
"leading" right hand).
A.I am sorry to hear about your problem. These things can be tricky and there are a number of considerations to make.
1) If you get increased pain following playing on the harder surfaces, like cymbals, them there is a CHANCE that technique COULD be involved. Is your strike relaxed and are you allowing the stick to rebound from the surface? Often drummers try to "play through" the surface to increase volume and speed. Recheck your grip. If it is too tight, more force will be transmitted into your wrists. Check the angle of attack and positioning of your hands.
2) Consider an evaluation by a chiropractor or osteopath who specializes in sports medicine. I know that health care these days can be expensive, and I know that insurance companies are "reluctant" to fulfill their promises to their policy holders. I would not recommend that you continue with severe pain which lasts longer than a few weeks.
Proper diagnostic imaging can help identify IF severe damage has occurred and then it can put you on the right track. It is possible that there has been some chronic damage to the cartilage or ligaments of your hand. You should follow a slow and progressive rehabilitation program, which includes slow increases in playing. If you flare up during this program, an MRI and possibly a CT bone scan would help determine injury to soft tissue or bone.
3) Consider learning to play left hand to hi hat and right hand to ride cymbal. This takes years to learn, but I recommend it not only for spreading the work load to each hand, but it also increases independence and enhances personal style. Start with this as an exercise and build up. I have done this for over 30 years. I was lucky to have begun this early in life, but any player can benefit from this exercise and learn to share the work load between two hands.
4) There IS a genetic / individual component to any physical activity. Some people are able to perform activities for years with little or no problem. For example; professional basketball/football/baseball players, who are ABLE to continue playing because their physical make up enables them to "withstand the physical the punishment", while other players are unable to withstand the decades of physical abuse and become injured...ending their careers. It is always best to learn habits which limit physical trauma or altered biomechanics. This can be the difference between playing for decades and only playing for years.
I'm from Arizona. I don't know of any doctor
here that specializes in drummers so I
thought I would ask you if you could help me
with my problem. When playing usually faster
songs the web between my pointer finger and
thumb extending down to my palm has a
tendency to cramp up. It doesn't matter how
much a stretch it or warm up it always does.
Some days are worse then others though. It
has been getting to the point when I am
playing live ( three to four nights a week)
that I can barely hold onto my stick. I find
myself holding onto it more like a club then
a drum stick. I am hoping that you have some
incite on my problem and could give me a few
tips on how to work this problem out.
I am 43 years old. I have been drumming
since age 8. Being mostly self-taught, I
have admittedly had a number of bad habits
in my playing. I have addressed a number of
issues over the years including
posture and neck stability/motion in
particular. The one area I am
concerned with right now is my right (kick
pedal) leg. I have experienced in the past, upper
thigh pain, which is in the very bottom area
of the lower abdomen and very top of the
leg/thigh. I had an issue with
this problem years ago, when playing a gig
where lots of kick drum work was required
(i.e. disco, quarter note patterns, etc.).
At the time, I actually reversed my drum
kit, and played the kick drum with my left
foot! Perhaps I will need to do this again?
as my problem is back. I am playing (for
about a year now) on a new gig, with similar
kick drum demands. It seems that (to me)
in order to get enough power to play the
music, I have to lift my right leg a majority of the
time on these tunes (play the pedal with my
heel up). And this seems to be where I am
encountering this problem again. Can you make any
suggestions as to altering my technique, and
possible treatment of the soreness, toning,
etc. so that I can keep on this gig, and
work in a more correct way so I don't
continue to stress my leg. (I do some basic
stretching before each night now).
A.Sorry to hear of the trouble. First off, I cannot offer specific advice or treatment recommendations without examining you fin person. I can make some general statements.
Follow-up Reply from A.W.
Calf Pain During Gig.
A.This discussion is purely for background sake and is not a substitute for professional medical advise.
As you play "hard" it is possible that you strained a calf muscle (either the soleous or gastrocnemious). A strained muscle is a tear in the muscle. The difficulty with lower leg muscle strain is that 1) the calf muscles are a two joint muscle group, working to flex the ankle AND flex the knee. 2) the lower leg is a postural muscle group, it has to work all the time while you walk and stand. Because muscle heals with scar tissue which is more pain sensitive and less flexible, the healing tissue may over react and give pain signals for months beyond the injury. Slow and gentle early motion coupled with some rest is the key...slowly increasing the physical demands over time.
There are some stretches which can and should be done...I will try to get some photos of these placed on the web site.
Unless you have really been eating poorly, it is doubtful that a mineral deficiency is involved in of your trouble, however, given your youth and short period of time playing...it MAY be possible that you under hydrated or let your mineral balance come out of balance. Make sure to eat well and stay well hydrated, before during and after rehearsals and gigs. Beer and soda don't count...drink water or 50/50 water with sports drink.
As a hypothetical....I would rest well for a few days...doing gentle stretching AND non weight bearing range of motion. Elevate the ankle and do ankle circles and flex up and down against gravity only. After a couple days, then begin playing 5-10 minutes...any pain...you stop.
If you have any obvious pain or tender stops now, you should ice while resting over the next 2-3 days. Ice 7 minutes about 3x a day. Ice until numb but not longer. Eat well and stay hydrated. Avoid tobacco use especially while healing.
while Playing 2-3 hours a day.
A.This discussion is purely for background sake and is not a substitute for professional medical advise.
Sorry to hear of your problems. Thank you for your kind words!
In several places in your email, you mention practicing a great deal. In one instance you mention that you practice 2-3 hours per day. I have to tell you that playing at force for over an hour or so can generate enough stress and friction to inflame tendons and soft tissues. Think about it; the number of strokes in a minute times one hour. That is a great deal of force and friction. This will generate heat from friction!
You are still very young. Be patient and continue your studies. Stretching and taking care of your body will help, but you have to be judicious in your practice habits. You can't create a diamond in a single day, month or year. I don't advocate routinely practicing at force for over 1 1/2 hours a day. I suggest that you break your practice periods down into 3-4 sessions of 20 minutes. Work on theory for another 30 minutes.
Remember, drumming = friction = heat = inflammation. This equation will change very little from player to player.