Shaking Hand problem

Starting in January 2023 I decided to change my picking technique from a form of pronation that i have used for over 30 years to a wrist technique. At first my wrist would only move down. I didnt have any strength to pick moving up. I used a pen and paper, similar to Troy’s picking test, and got my wrist strength to where I could pick with a wrist upward movement. As I continued to develop the wrist picking I started to get a shake in my thumb, that causes my hand to bounce up and down perpendicular to the neck. Sometimes when I play it dosent occur and other times it’s so bad I can’t hardly even strum. I have tried all the neck , arm, hand exercises I can find. I have tried supplements, tested all my medications., done pinched nerve exercises and I can’t find a solution. I have talked with my sports med Dr and it seems like the shaking is isolated to just that motion. Also if I try to go back to my old motion the shake does not go away. Does anyone have any experience with a shake like this ?

I did have a shaking hand problem. In my case, it turned out to be case of anxiety. It would happen any time I tried to play, and I couldn’t play with it.

It hasn’t happened in a long while now, since a few years of still ongoing therapy.

Im not saying your issue is psychological though and it is probably something that needs to be diagnosed professionally.

In the meantime, you could upload a video of your picking so we could see if there is anything there that looks uncomfortable etc etc

Sorry to hear about this. The only time I’ve experienced any kind of tremor it’s been a brief and transitory thing that was clearly correlated with extreme muscle fatigue.

One thing that jumped out at me in your post is the part about “got my wrist strength to where I could pick with a wrist upward movement.” Could it be that the original limitation you were trying to work on was less a true “strength” issue, and more a “range of motion” issue? That is, I know in some of the Andy Wood videos, @Troy points out that the “neutral” point for wrist deviation is typically offset in the ulnar direction more than we might think. If you were trying to make a deviation motion and upstrokes felt weak, maybe that was a symptom of trying to make radial deviation movements from a starting point that was already near the maximum range of motion in that direction?

Thanks for your suggestion!

I appreciate your response ! I am going to go review the Andy Wood interview asap. I would say when I first started to change my technique, my right wrist was almost straight. It moved down easily but not up. Straight was the neutral position (relaxed position) on my left wrist and I had/have strength in it moving both ways but as you suggest if straight is the neutral position it will move about 2x down more than up (Radial Deviation) So after exercising the right wrist I now have similar deviation in both wrists Most of the time, but not always, I will get shaking in my right wrist. This suggestion is a good one that I will investigate more. Thank You for your help !

I don’t remember this moment you’re referring to, but I think I might have been referring to the fact that in a purely deviation sense, the wrist can go farther on the ulnar side than the radial side. Technically this is true.

However we’re learning that purely deviation type motions aren’t that common in everyday activities. Not only that, but the whole FE-RUD coordinate system seems to be more of a theoretical construct created by scientists for measurement purposes, and not really representative of any mechanical “axes” that you can actually locate or measure with the wrist. If there is such a thing, the two dart thrower axes are closer to that, and that’s much harder for most people to visualize.

So I wouldn’t really spend too much time worrying about deviation range of motion for guitar purposes, or trying to “find the midpoint”, i.e. to deliberately place your hand there. There are better ways of finding what’s comfortable, like the tips in our latest “reverse dart” lessons in the Primer.

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I wouldn’t do this — I doubt this will help.

I don’t know what’s going on in your technique and without actually seeing yoy play on video I wouldn’t want to guess. I don’t know what you mean by “form of pronation” and “upward movement” so that’s not something I can comment on.

My first response in any situation like this is to say stop guitar immediately and see a doctor. It sounds like you’ve done that. What did they say specifically, did they notice any kind of pain or injury?

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I’d ask your sports medicine physician for a referral to a specialist; what about a neurologist, for example?

I’d also consider uploading a video of what’s going on, as some people here might have some insights for you.

But I agree with Troy, if it was me I’d put the guitar down and read a theory book (or something) while waiting for my next medical consultation.

Good luck!

I really appreciate all of the advice. I talked with my sports med doctor who indicated he though I likely had a pinched nerve. He suggested that I try some physical therapy first and if that didn’t work then a neurologist. I did a bunch of things this week that seem like they have helped a lot. I have only played briefly and did not get the shaking.

This week;

  • I did a physical therapy session focused on my arm, back and neck and exercises to strengthen and improve my posture
  • I did an hour session with a pain management massage therapist that did deep tissue massage from my wrist up thru my neck
  • I researched 10-15 videos of exercises for pinched nerves. I found several that seem to directly impact tightness in my neck and back.

I will continue the exercises and have scheduled follow up’s with PT & Massage. I believe I am on to a solution but I will need some more time to know. I am optimistic about the results so far !!