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Sax (Tennis) Elbow

dave 645

Member
Messages
124
I have developed a slightly inflammed, but extremely painful elbow. My wife, a physio, tells me it is a form of tennis elbow, generated by a combination of supporting the sax through my right thumb, whilst operating the keys with my right fingers. I don't question her knowledge, but I am curious to know if anybody else has experienced something similar, and if so, what did you do about it?

My wife suggests not playing for a while, and she is not dropping hints about my (lack of) talent. I don't have to practice, but I do enjoy it and if possible I'd like to carry on. She also suggested buying a powerball and strengthening my wrists.

Any thoughts?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Listen to her. I had tennis elbow from overdoing it on a rowing machine. Wasn't funny - except for other people to look at.
 

AndyG

Member
Messages
324
I had tennis elbow once (quite common for electricians and plumbers according to the doc and quite painful) and if I remember correctly it was treated with anti inflammatory pills. I stayed away from the sax for a few days too, so may be worth a gp visit.
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
Let the sling take the strain, all of it. With the sling height adjusted to perfection your thumbs will only have to balance the sax and not support it. A rest sounds like a good idea.

Jim.
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Let the sling take the strain, all of it. With the sling height adjusted to perfection your thumbs will only have to balance the sax and not support it. A rest sounds like a good idea.

Jim.
+1 for Jim. This is how it should be. Use the thumb to push the sax, not to lift it.
 

dave 645

Member
Messages
124
I guess I have to support the sax enough to keep it balanced, but not so heavily that my tendons are strained. I need to rest. Nik I'm just not as committed as you, (but I do keep my reeds in whiskey!!)
 

Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
Messages
2,773
Both my business partner and I suffered with this complaint for about 5 years due to lugging heavy glass blowing irons every day.
Thought we would carry the complaint until retirement (har-har) but it cleared up almost overnight for the both of us.
We both take cod liver oil and glucosamine tablets and I'm almost convinced it was this combination that helped.
Bad footballers knees that were very percussive when bent have also got better. Have to use backing tracks now instead of just
relying on my metronome joints.
Andy
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
Yes tennis elbow is contagious from `not just` tennis rackets.
book an appointment with your wife and follow her advice for a speedy recovery.
after youve rested and recovered you`ll be fine.;}
I found when I first started playing that my thumb muscle was sore.
Caused from holding too much weight of the sax
Heres what I now do
When setting up the sax height on the neck strap.
Once I clip on, with my head facing comfortably forward, I place right thumb under the rest and push forward from hip/stomach, do not try to catch the mp by moving your head.
If the sax mouthpiece does not go straight into my mouth I know its at the Wrong height , so I adjust accordingly.
This has stopped a bad habit of trying to hold the weight of said sax into position.;}
note : My sitting strap position is different to my standing strap position and the position varies according to the clothes I may be wearing around my collar region, so I constantly need to adjust the strap each time I strap on. comfort is everything for a begginer. like me.
Good luck with the tennis elbow.:)
 

Ruby

Member
Messages
75
Dave, I've never had tennis elbow but I did have a problem a couple of years ago - I had a while when my right wrist was aching and I thought it must be something to do with playing my sax. So I watched myself play in a mirror to see what I was doing and I saw that I'd developed a habit of crooking my wrist up in a funny way while playing, so I consciously had to make myself stop doing it and have my hand and wrist more relaxed and not under tension like it had been. It helped and I don't get the aching wrist now.
I don't know anything about tennis elbow but once you're able to play again I just wondered if it's worth having a look to check that type of thing, if you see something that doesnt look right then it might help.

On another note...I got over the wrist thing and I've now developed a small lump on the top of my thumb between the knuckle and joint, nearest the joint. I guess this is where the rest digs in a bit. Does anyone else have this? It doesnt give me any gip and it's hard skin, not on the bone. But if I'm doing something wrong I'd rather know so I can do something about it. Or is this just something sax players get because of the rest?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Another thing that may be contributing is forcing the keys closed, you shouldn't have to press hard at all for them to seal. Should be just light finger pressure. Any more and you're straining fingers/hands/arms. And as many of the muscles that move the fingers are in your forearms, not your hands, there are potential problems from finger to elbow. Might be worth getting your wife to take a good look at how you play as well as hold.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,945
Another thing that may be contributing is forcing the keys closed, you shouldn't have to press hard at all for them to seal. Should be just light finger pressure. Any more and you're straining fingers/hands/arms. And as many of the muscles that move the fingers are in your forearms, not your hands, there are potential problems from finger to elbow. Might be worth getting your wife to take a good look at how you play as well as hold.
Good point - I get this problem if I go on a viol playing weekend or week as I'm not used to playing for that amount of time on a regular basis - I get stiffness in the left forearm from fingering the viol (fingering? More like the Vulcan death grip :shocked:).

I reguarly see a sports physio and he showed me some stretching exercises that help. If not, on my next visit to him he does some manipulation work on the forarm and that fixes it. The root cause is too tight a grip on the neck of the viol in my case.
 

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Well my right elbow has given trouble in the past. Unwilling to stop playing, I've controlled it by using my left hand for most things that require any force, such as lifting or opening tight lids, etc...it seems to be clearing up.

Both thumbs are giving trouble at the moment though. It started during a drunken gig a few months ago...we played for 5 hours in two sets...and being excited with my new clip on mic, I must have spent too much time with the tenor lifted up in front of me. By the end, my thumbs were killing me. For a while, every time I played my tenor, it hurt...so I've been playing more alto for a while and it seems to be going away.

Ruby...I've got a lump of hard skin on the joint of my right thumb, too. I just gnaw it off with my teeth every now and then!

Martin
 

dave 645

Member
Messages
124
Thanks for the shared experiences and insights. To bring this up to date;

I got my wife to "treat" me, no sniggers needed. She started by digging fingers into the muscles around my elbow. When I grimaced she said is this the one, and then dug fingers harder into the sore muscles. Not just did I grimace and swear, but I also noticed that my index finger tensed and extended. My wife then shifted the object of her attention and my middle finger extended.
The following day my forearm ached, but is, after a couple of days getting less painful. Now my wife tells me I need to not play until the pain has gone. Frustrating!

I will take care to adjust the loadbearing of my saxes, and I will pay attention to the pressure I apply to the keys.

In the meantime I'll surf the internet more, and hope for a speedier recovery.
 
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