Need help with my Right Hand. Please Help, its painful!

Hello my name is Trey Alexander

My right hand is killing me. I wish I could figure out what I am doing wrong and why I have pain now.

Little back ground on myself

Winner of guitar player magazines guitar hero award

I will buy something to do close up videos and make a proper video once I get better gear to do so. But for now I have these three videos and they at least shop me when I am performing and what I default to when I am playing live!

Thank you ahead of time for all of your help!! Really Appreciate it!!

Also want to say hello to everyone and Thank you all for an amazing forum and website!! This is really a special place!!

Have a beautiful weekend and I look forward to talking to you soon!!

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Hey Trey,


Well… clearly you are an amazing player already! When you say painful, do you mean it literally?

in that case I’d hesitate to give (or take) medical advice on the forum (I am not a MD) and get a proper medical assessment of joint/muscle/nerve health in the affected areas.


Thank you so much for the kind words!!

I just mean when alternating picking it tires easily and gets sore. I am wondering if I am not doing something wrong. I feel like I have reached a plateau and playing more doesn’t seem to help. I am already playing so much and working so hard to get to the next level but I feel like I cant hit that next level.

Where does it get sore?

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I was going to ask the same thing.

Specifically, where does your hand hurt? Are there any movements which seem to aggrevate it? Have you started practicing anything new or practicing something more intensely?

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It’s sore in my shoulder mostly and I feel like I have to rely on hybrid and economy playing to get around it. I joined a bluegrass band a couple years ago just to build my right hand technique and it I still feel capped out. I can play fast using these other techniques as a way around it but I want to be able to pick certain passages

Also feels like my forearm gets really tired and sore causing my hand to hurt too.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not an MD or a physiotherapist. This is not a diagnosis.

If there’s an issue with your shoulder, it’s probably the result of internal rotation with elevation/protraction and too much thoracic flexion causing impingement. This position is pretty consistent with the seated position you have while playing in the bluegrass video.

This impingement can result in a build-up of tension in the entire arm and forearm over time. Also, it could be that your hybrid picking movement involves wrist extension with finger flexion, which is a co-contraction and can result in excessive fatigue and injury over time.

I would suggest visiting a physiotherapist, but it won’t do you any harm to do some external rotation and retraction shoulder exercises with light resistance bands, some thoracic extension with a foam roller and massaging your extensor muscles.

It’s very late here, but I might be able to make a video tomorrow.


Thank you, very informative!!! Really appreciate you taking the time out to help me.

I have been working really hard on all of the Andy Wood stuff to see if I can gain any ground but I feel like I hit a plateau and no matter how much I work on it I can’t seem to get to that next level.

Frustrating and I am sure some of this is the drive and frustration causing some of the tension but I would love to know what is happening in my alternate picking. I think I am doing the bounce thing that they warn about but it feels so strange to do anything other than what I naturally do and have done for so many years. I feel as soon as I hit the stage all of it goes out the window and I revert to the technique I have always used

What do you feel is lacking with the technique you’ve already used/are familiar with?

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Just feels limiting at times. Not to mention it’s painful. And I fear over time it may be damaging. I am talking about the alternate picking everything, not the way I naturally play, that doesn’t hurt me that much it’s this drive to alternate pick everything that is killing My shoulder and arm.

I guess we all fall into this rut of the grass is greener on the other side. Watching guys like Guthrie Govan, Max Ostro and Andy Wood can make you feel totally inspired but it can also make you feel totally overwhelmed. And totally frustrated.

More than anything I am looking for some insight into my picking mechanic to see where I am going wrong, I figured you all have seen most right hand problems and I figured it couldn’t hurt to have some experienced eyes look at it and analyze it

Hi Trey,

I made a video for you. I hope this helps.


I’ll try again, what do you feel is missing from the way that you “naturally play” that would be solved by a “pick everything” approach?

(Guthrie definitely isn’t a “pick everything” guy, for example)


The clarity of alternate picking is something I have always wanted in my playing. Maybe I am over thinking it. But I feel like my hands aren’t quite in sync which means certain things that I hear I can’t accomplish due to this hick up. I know a shortcut but I don’t want to take the shortcut anymore

You should take the recommendation to see a physiotherapist seriously. I have a bit of instability in my right shoulder from a combination of bad posture, bad guitar posture, and from lifting concrete block up over my head as a mason. There are some exercises that have helped- mostly the same ones that Tom recommended here- but there are some others that only a medical doctor should recommend.

When it comes to double escape crosspicking, I have to be very aware of how I’m balancing on the guitar, making sure that my shoulder is completely relaxed. When I feel my shoulder start tensing and rolling forward it changes my hand position AND I just can’t go fast with my wrist anymore.

Repeating myself here, but- a lot of unlocking speed in my crosspicking practice comes down to getting the balance and contact points right with a relaxed shoulder, then really concentrating on my shoulder staying relaxed while picking. When tension comes in, I stop and reset.


First of all, great playing!

Secondly, it’s hard to say for definite without a closeup of your bluegrass playing but your hand looks like it’s very flat to the guitar. From what I recall, DBX requires a certain amount of supination or pronation depending on your preferred approach so that you are using flexion/extension in combination with deviation.

If you don’t use any supination or pronation and are completely flat to the guitar then you can only escape the strings with flexion/extension (stringhopping) which results in muscle overuse.

Might be telling you something you already know here but if not it may be something to look into :grin:

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Thank you all so much I am going to watch this video and do you mean kicking your wrist out a bit to take tension out? And how do you get to the next string with out lifting up which causing the bouncing that’s the part I can’t seem to fix?

First off amazing video!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

You just stumbled on the problem.

I dislocated my right shoulder severely when I was a kid.

It’s the forward motion of my shoulder probably due to the injury that might be what’s causing the pain I think trying to force that shoulder back may fix this!


First and foremost-
There is an exercise I do to push my shoulders back, but you have to get checked out by a qualified doctor. It’s really risky exercise if you have a shoulder instability because you could easily make things worse. Your form also may be causing more damage to your shoulder when you play guitar. I wish I went to the doctor sooner.

You should watch the crosspicking with the wrist seminar here. It’s explained very well there by Troy.

Andy Wood is only lightly supinated, Molly tuttle is pronated. I wouldn’t worry about that too much. Andy Wood looks almost flat. You can barely make out that there’s any supination unless you know what to look for. When I do it, my wrist and forearm appear to be flat . I also hold the pick slightly differently than when I use my rotational forearm style, and the tone of the string is different. It’s easier with a larger pick like a Jazz iii XL size.

My tip for doing the Andy Wood thing is to try to get it working on the DGB strings first. Just do banjo rolls. You can try resting your pisiform bone lightly around where the low end string meets the bridge. Rest your forearm mostly flat. Try to get a flowing roll going at medium speed.

Molly Tuttle has arrangements of Wildwood Flower and Worried Man Blues online which have basic roll patterns.

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You’ll still be able to escape the strings but if your arm is a little supinated you’ll be using a combination of flexion/extension and deviation. Troy breaks it down beautifully at the bit timestamped in this video:

Now you should be able to set yourself up appropriately, one of the best ways to learn the movement is with purely alternate picked Banjo Rolls. I also found Vinnie Moore’s 2nds, 3rds and “X” scale exercises were really helpful as well as his alternate picked arpeggios (though they are a lot harder).

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in your mind what is that next level?

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