Jump to content
chrisd783

Posture - urgent help needed!

Recommended Posts

Hi all

I'm a DB beginner and I desperately need some advice. I'm getting aches and pains in the left side of my neck towards the back, working it's way down to my shoulder (I'm a right-handed player). It happens when I play for 20-30 minutes or more, and it's feels akin to sleeping awkwardly on the area. It lasts for hours after playing, sometimes into the next day. 

Altering the height of the tail pin doesn't seem to help. I think possibly it could be because I'm still having to turn my head to watch my left hand, as I'm still familiarising myself with the finger board. I find I'm concentrating so much on playing that I'm not aware of my posture, and I don't realise it's causing me discomfort until I stop playing.

I say urgent help because I've been bitten by the DB bug in a major way. I can't express the enjoyment I'm getting out of learning this incredible instrument, to the extent that I'm playing daily despite the discomfort it's causing me. I wake up thinking about it and can't wait to get my hands on it every day. But the discomfort is getting progressively worse and I'm worried that I might have to refrain from playing soon. 

Did anyone else experience this when learning? What did you do to overcome it? Any and all advice will be gratefully received! 

 

  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What physical shape are you in at the moment, particularly in the upper back and shoulders?

I injured myself playing 5 years ago and it’s taken me until recently to get back in shape, I had similar pains to you but worse and it was mostly down to muscle wastage and being out of condition, I had to build muscle with exercise in my back and I also learnt to do Chi Kung to gain more flexibility and strength .

Another thing that has been very helpful is having a very good physical trainer who is a great massagist and has given me the right exercises to help me play again

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found playing for longer periods much easier when I started building up a little bit of upper-body strength doing a few press-ups or going to the gym. I don't think you have to be Charles Atlas, but it's a help, even with just lugging the bloody thing round 😉

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the kind of thing that a good teacher is invaluable for. It could be any number of things: building up key muscle strength, the set up of your bass, bass height and angle, shape of the left hand, etc.

There is a reason that people keep suggesting to beginners to find a teacher, and that reason is that this instrument can be very unforgiving. Most double bassists over their years of playing will have to deal with a playing related injury. Invest in tuition early on to develop a healthy approach, and you save yourself a lot of trouble and grief. 

I have been changing my posture with the help of a teacher in recent months (after playing for more than 10 years), and it has helped me to radically reduce the tension and strain of playing. But you really need someone to observe you playing, make detailed suggestions and correct mistakes before they solidify into habits. Just my 2p. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While it's never going to do any harm to be in good physical shape, if your technique is good you shouldn't need anything more than normal strength / fitness to play the bass, so I'd take @Duckyincarnate's advice and get a teacher, even for a couple of lessons.

I know you say that you've tried different endpin heights and it hasn't made any difference but I think it's worth persevering with this. I had mine a few centimetres too low and I was stooping ever so slightly and ended up in pain. A small adjustment and it went away. In general I've found that the endpin needs to be higher than you might think, especially if you lean the bass into yourself a bit as you play.

If you feel that turning your neck is partially responsible, it might be because you're holding the bass too much to your side, rather than angled in a bit towards your body, which means that you're twisting your neck more than you need to.

If you haven't seen this video then it's well worth a watch - @geoffbassist does a much better job of explaining it than I could:
 


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Take professional advice. We're all built differently and nobody on here can give advice that will be of much use to you and your needs. I'd find an Alexander teacher.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surprised no one has mentioned a mirror. Find a nice big full-length one and set yourself up so that your body and head face the mirror. Use the mirror to observe your left hand rather than turning your head, and to observe any tendency to twist or angle your head when you're not thinking about it.

You could also try doing a simple chromatic exercise, say 1 - 2 - 4 - 2 - 1 (assuming you're using Simandl) in half position on the G, on repeat, and try to focus as much of your attention as possible on your neck and head position. Try to let the exercise 'play itself' and don't worry about tone or intonation. The object is to feel comfortable and relaxed, the exercise itself is only there as a means to an end. Notice any tendency to tense up if your attention wanders back to your hands or what you're hearing. You could try this with your eyes closed to avoid any temptation to start observing your hands.

If you notice your mind wandering or part of you tensing up, stop, relax and begin again. Try to avoid becoming frustrated when this keeps happening, as it will. Congratulate yourself for having noticed!

Edited by Cathode_Follower

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do NOT look at your left hand!  If you feel tempted, start playing in a dark room.

When I was a small boy learning the 'cello, my dad (who was also my teacher) put a bit of elastoplast on the neck where my thumb should be in first position (ie finger 2 on the A string = C, thumb behind 2nd finger, more or less); from there, one finger back is half position, moving your hand up to the neck so your thumb is on the heel gives you a 5th up, or an octave up from the next open string down.  Filling in the space between first position and "tuhumb on the heel" is a matter of replacing second finger with first finger (do that three times and you've reach the neck position) - the brain's ability to map where a finger was touching and replace it with a different finger is amazing.   It got to be learned and is quicker than you think ... and won't hurt your neck either!

It's much easier than an electric bass because of the clues telling you where your hand is (but harder as you can only use three fingers and the gaps are bigger!). 

I admit to looking at my hand now and then when playing electric otherwise I just get lost - but never look at my left hand when playing double bass or cello.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎12‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 22:39, chrisd783 said:

 I'm getting aches and pains in the left side of my neck towards the back, working it's way down to my shoulder (I'm a right-handed player). It happens when I play for 20-30 minutes or more, and it feels akin to sleeping awkwardly on the area. It lasts for hours after playing, sometimes into the next day. 

 

 

Do you know what, I've been suffering from EXACTLY THIS and thought I needed new pillows!! Clearly I need to sort out some exercise and posture improvement - thanks to everyone for your valuable contributions to this thread.

 

It's exactly this sort of thing that makes me so glad I joined this forum.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...