To Shred or Get Shredded

Lately my right hand has been getting more easily and more tensed up during playing. This is unusual for me. I never normally got excess tension. And I honestly think it’s because of always using a computer mouse during playing (going back and forth from guitar to pc stuff), and playing more video games recently. I can’t lie, I very much enjoy a bit of video games almost every day or every day of the week. When I go from playing video games to guitar, I can tell my right hand is already tensed up because I feel like I naturally over squeeze or over push my Ps5 controller buttons when playing lots of shooter stuff usually. My right wrist also gets tired with a normal pc mouse. I’ve tried the vertical mouse and it’s really not much better for me. I think the ps5 controller is def the biggest factor because I can feel my right hand get tired and tense while playing . I can try gaming with my keyboard but my hand just still feels weird. So just wondering if anyone has had the same issues. @Tom_Gilroy you said you used to game a bit, did it ever translate to excess tension during playing?

I’ve written about this a little bit in other threads.

I’ve never had issues with excessive tension or poor posture while playing guitar, however…

While typing my Ph.D thesis, I developed severe tendinitis/tendinosis in both wrists which persisted for nearly two years. I could not hold a cup of coffee in my left hand for more than a year, and I was genuinely concerned that if the problem persisted I wouldn’t be able to play guitar anymore.

For me, the big issue was very poor form and posture using a keyboard and mouse. This resulted in my extensors being under constant tension while working at a computer.

I was also gaming more than I had been during my late teens, most of my expenses were covered by my scholarship and I was making regular money working as a teaching assistant in tutorials, grading papers, etc. I was mostly a console gamer and I mostly used the controller (PS3 at the time), but I was a big fan of fighting games and I had arcade style controllers for playing those games. I would also sit in poor posture while gaming, mostly sitting on my bed with my legs crossed, elbows at my knees, shoulders rounded forwards.

The last issue is that I go in the habit of watch television shows while lying on my bed with my laptop on my abdomen. Obviously, this was bad for my posture aswell.

I did notice myself losing some dexterity and fluidity while playing guitar. At the time I had mostly lost interest in fast playing, I was tired of hearing myself playing the same licks I had been playing since my teens, I didn’t yet understand how to build my own fast vocabularly, and I was mostly concerned with developing my tone, phrasing, note shaping, etc. I put the decreased dexterity and fluidity down to just spending less time playing the things I had played when I was younger.

Eventually, I developed tendinitis in my right wrist, then my left. I went to a physiotherapist regularly, the problem would lessen for a while, and then it would come back worse. Eventually I was in chronic pain and the function in my hands (particularly my left hand) was becoming very limited.

We identified the activities which aggrevated my condition, mentioned above. I was asked to bring a guitar to a physiotherapy session so my physio could observe my playing. She said that not only did it not look like my guitar playing was the issue, but that my general posture and overall body tension seemed to lessen when I was holding the guitar.

I retrained my typing technique, started working to improve my posture, started spending less time gaming and stopped watching TV on my laptop. Tendon damage heals slowly, but my situation improved steadily over time. My facility with the guitar started to return, and eventually I was symptom free.

This whole ordeal was the inital reason I became interested in learning the anatomy of the hands, joint functions, efficient muscular activations, the implications of posture, etc. It is very possible that had this never happened, I would never have been motivated to re-focus my attention on my guitar technique and that the technical advancements I’ve made since my late 20s would never have happened.

In about 2017, after having spent a few years travelling for work, I was overweight and struggling with depression. My girlfriend suggested I start training BJJ again. I had trained for about a year in university before getting injured, and was unable to return due to the issues with my hands. I decided I was going to replace most of my “sitting down” hobbies with “moving around” hobbies. The only exception would be guitar. I don’t game anymore and I barely watch television.

Since then, I lost 17 kilograms of body fat, gained 10 kilograms of muscle, earned a blue and a purple belt in BJJ, and I’ve made extraordinary progress in my guitar playing. I am happy and grateful for every day.

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Biggest risk factor for tendinopathy, which is most RSI, is simply doing too much activity (s). Ergonomics may matter a little bit, but doing more than your body can recover from is the primary driver.

The problem is you won’t know how much is too much until you feel pain, and by then you already have the tendinopathy. Now you need to go through a tedious and painful rehab process which can take months, if not years. And during that rehab you need to cut back drastically on the activities that aggravated it in the first place.

Gaming, whether it’s console or keyboard/mouse, and guitar, use a lot of the same flexor and extensor tendons of the elbows, wrists, and fingers. I developed tendinopathy in my wrists and elbows from too much gaming and guitar when I was a teenager. I still have pain 15 years later, although things are a lot better now.

My advice would be to prioritize guitar or gaming; doing a lot of both just seems like a recipe for injury.

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Always gamed a lot on and off but never experienced any problems with my guitar playing because of it

What really messed up my tendons was weightlifting possibly mixed with the combination of bad posture and rounded shoulders from practicing hunched over my guitar for hours on end. Any type of EZ bar curl or straight barbell curl would be painful, especially when putting the weight down to rest between sets, seemed to me like golfers elbow symptoms

When I would try to play guitar I would get pins and needles in my right arm very shortly after playing and the whole arm would go numb a lot of the time, it got to a point where just sitting doing nothing I would get carpal tunnel pain shooting down my forearm

After being gym obsessed for two years I decided to give it up for the time being to try and let my tendons heal and the symptoms seem to have mostly gone away now thankfully, although I should still see a doctor and get it checked it probably :grin:

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Sorry to hear. I’ve been lifting for a very long time and luckily it never caused any issues with my guitar playing. Only thing really is I go hard doing my biceps or back (pulling motions) my hands might be a bit tired to play guitar at normal levels

Interesting you lift as well, that’s at least 3 different activities that in isolation may be fine but maybe combined could be behind some of the tension!

I used to hook grip my deadlifts as well, I know that loads of people and even Olympians use hook grip safely but when I eventually return I’ll be switching to straps. Having all that weight on your thumb is something I definitely want to avoid just to err on the side of caution :slight_smile:

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I’m actually back at my parents house for a couple nights including all day yesterday, and played guitar all day (well a few hours). No ps5 and no computer in my old room. Played guitar without any issues the whole time. I’m convinced it’s the ps5 and pc mouse. I appreciate your thoughts but I really don’t think it’s the lifting. I only go twice a week for 30 minutes now just to main.

As per your thoughts for deadlifting, I was a very good deadlifter at a young age. Was able to hit 5 plates at 19 years old. Hardly do it anymore but when I do I use the trap bar. Maybe consider the trap bar? It feels much safer all around

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Ah okay fair enough, I was going 6 days a week with a PPL split with lots of accessory movements :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Never tried the trap bar but I’ll definitely give it a go when I’m back! More into the presses myself, again planning to invest in some wrist wraps when I’m back at it just to avoid any excess stress on the joints

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I am 43, and have been playing video games regularly for pretty much my entire life (from the Colecovision and Commodore days up to the current gen). Nowadays it’s only about an hour or two a day, but it’s never caused any sort of issue for me. That said, I could see potential problems if someone was playing highly competitive games for long stretches, and I try to avoid button-mashing (if you have to repeatedly smash X, let’s say, I’ll hit it with alternating index and middle fingers, like a finger drum roll, rather than freaking out and going thumb crazy haha).

I was also very into lifting weights for a dozen years or so, from early 20’s-35, and that didn’t cause any issues either, except for straight bar curls (which I ditched because they’d routinely cause a sharp pain in my forearms after a couple of sessions). I also avoided mixed grip on deadlifts and always did overhand, though I don’t think mixed is necessarily bad.

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Yeah I just play about an hour or two a day. I think it’s the ps5 controller. This is my PlayStation since ps2. Switched to Xbox for years until I got a Pc and then ps5 for Spider-Man haha. The games I play tend to be mostly button bashing and clicking in the toggle stick with my right thumb lol

Edit: my first PlayStation lol

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Funny, video games were my favorite thing in the world from about age 5 until age 11. That was when I started playing guitar, never got back to games after that. I tend to be an “all or nothing” type of person in general though.

A couple years back, after being involved with CtC and regular light weightlifting, I developed this pain in my right arm, somewhere around here:

It got aggravated when I’d play any rotational picking movement (which sucked since that what I wanted to work on at that time) and any weightlifting movement involving supination or even hammer curls.

I didn’t see any doctor since my insurance sucks. I just stopped doing all the stuff that hurt it, and it went away. Now I can do the rotational movement and pretty much any light weightlifting like I did before, no sign of pain at all.

I used to be into the heavy body building workouts in my late 20’s. Dorian Yates style training to failure (and beyond), 4 - 5 days per week Nothing like you though @carranoj25 , 5 plate deadlift for a non competitive lifter is no joke. Knowing what I’ve learned about my lack of intuition regarding guitar playing, I’ll bet I was doing so many things wrong in the gym lol For someone who was as “into it” as I was, I had not much to show for it, neither in physique or impressive numbers on heavy compound exercises. Even so, this never manifested as tension in my guitar playing and I stayed relatively injury free.

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Dorian Yates one of my favs!!! A lot to unpack
There @joebegly but you mentioned one big thing. A lot of people saw Dorian Yates and his training videos Blood Guts and Glory (basically
The Hot Licks of the lifting world haha) and tried to imitate that. Without realizing that those guys are genetic freaks who also happen to be on lots of drugs to speed up that whole process.

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I’ve been told by physiotherapists that this area is notorious as the problem area for gamers, musicians and people who work with computers, and often results in referred pain in other areas. It was my problem area too, even though my pain was mostly in flexor tendons.

I may not have circled the exact spot correctly, but it was in that region. Definitely around right around my brachioradialis. And yeah, web developer, so constantly at the keyboard.

At least all is well now, and the pain was more of a nuisance than anything severe (or I would have sucked it up and paid the doctors haha). Still, it would be nice if I knew exactly what aggravated it to begin with as I never felt any sudden pain as I’d expect from an injury. I guess just wear and tear and not being a young man any more lol

He was one of the first guys to use HGH if I remember correctly from what I use to hear around the gym back when I worked out.

I will say this if I ever get a copy of Elden Ring my technique is going to suffer big time, as well as my real life. :sweat_smile:

Maybe get into analog synths and sequencers, that way you can just let the devices do all the work while you just plug in the notes, and alter the sound. Behringer has some really affordable analog synth clones. There are some really advanced all in one song creation devices as well. My favorite one that I have is the arturia minibrute 2s. If you are having problems with your hands. Try to use this as a way to get away from gaming, and focus more on music.

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I tried a keyboard for a bit but there’s just something physical and athletic about the guitar that hits the spot just right after a long days work haha :joy:

A lot of big mass monsters from the Dorian era. They were all on lots of stuff. I don’t really care much. Personally I think it’s a bigger issue now with social media. Young kids are constantly flooded with pics, vids, ads, and convinced to buy everything under the Sun without knowing what these people are really taking and not telling the world; see the whole very recent Liver King incident. We are blessed to not have to worry about anything like in the guitar world honestly

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Trust me I know exactly what you mean I would hear teenagers talking about taking steroids, and I wanted to just bash their head into the wall because they would always say I am eating chicken and rice. And they wondered why they weren’t getting stronger or bigger. I would literally tell them go home, and eat the entire cereal box, and ice cream tub at bedtime. They never believed me…

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That was your chance to sell them on the gypsy jazz rest stroke my friend!! Some TWPS in between sets of squats!! Just like ten push ups in between call of duty deaths :joy::joy::joy:

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You know whats funny is I am kind of benchmarking specific motions right now outside and inside picking strokes with swing tempo. And honestly I think I could do a half rest stroke faster than an inside string change, and almost just as fast as an outside stroke.

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I would love to see a video of how you specifically practice the rest stroke and how you incorporate it if you ever get some free time

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