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Thread: Intense Pain In Bicep

  1. Intense Pain In Bicep

    So Iím a high school player and Iíve been practicing a lot to try to improve, going in during lunch, 6th period, sometimes skipping 5th or 7th to go play in band during those periods, after school practice each day then practice later at night time because I really want to improve, and Iíve notice a few things. A) My lips are really strong right now and B) When every I pick up my instrument it sends pain all throughout my bicep, and when my arm is bent it doesnít want to unbend without giving me some pain, itís been happening for about a week and itís really starting to hinder my joy of playing my instrument. Iím thinking I probably need to take a break or stop practicing as much. Thoughts? Also first time posting so if I did something wrong apologizes.
    Last edited by fleuphplayer; 02-02-2021 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Typo

  2. #2
    That is odd for sure. Precisely how do you pick up your horn? With one arm? What spot on the horn do you grab? If you pick up the horn with one arm and pull it up to playing position, have you considered trying to pick the horn up with both arms? And if it is your right arm that you use to pick it up, try with your left arm. But better yet both arms. I assume that this did not happen prior to a week ago? Have you done something to hurt your arm in some other event? I don't think it should hurt like that, so some sort of medical professional might be necessary if it continues.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
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    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  3. Generally speaking when I pick up my instrument I do use my right arm grabbing either the handle behind the valves or where the mouthpiece inserts (Iíve been trying to stop grabbing it like that) so perhaps it is something to do with that, over the next couple days Iíll try grabbing it with both arms and see if that helps. I havenít had any significant problems with my arm in the past and this has been the first instance that this has happened.

  4. Without actually seeing what you are doing while playing/picking up the instrument, the two things I can think of are as follows:

    1) you may be unconsciously holding tension in your right arm while playing, like keeping your arm stiff and flexed while playing, which could lead to stiffness and discomfort when you put the horn down. Next time you practice, try noticing if you arm feels tense or strained, and if so try to relax through stretches and breathing to release that tension. A lot of times we carry around tension in different areas of our bodies without really noticing it because we get so used to it.

    In general, you want to let your left arm support most of the weight of the instrument (or, on your lap while sitting/with the aid a lap pad if you have one) so that your right hand can be free and relaxed for all the finger dexterity we need while playing. It's a similar idea to trombone, where the goal is to have the right arm (slide arm) be relaxed and loose to freely move as needed, the weight of the horn supported by the left shoulder and arm.


    2) Related to the first, but you might try some gentle arm stretches both before and after your practice sessions to help keep the muscles in your arms from getting stiff, releasing tension, and keeping flexible and relaxed. While doing stretches, remember to take slow, deep breaths and feel the stretches during the exhalation.

    I want to emphasize that if you still experience any sharp pain in a specific area during a stretch, stop! You may want to consult with a physical therapist to get a more specific idea of what's going on, and specific guidance to help you out.
    Willson 2900 TA-1 Euphonium - Denis Wick 4AM
    Yamaha YSL-643 Trombone - Bach 5G
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    Past:
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    Benge 165F Trombone - Benge Marcellus
    Wessex BR140 Baritone - Denis Wick 6BS

  5. #5
    Your left arm should be holding the weight of the horn, and the right arm is just for fingering and for balancing the horn. Are you sure you are not holding it up with strength from your right arm?

    Position can matter, too. Your head should point straight ahead - if you position you and the horn so your head turns slightly to the right, that will cramp up your arm. If you are OK there, you MIGHT try moving your music stand to the left slightly but not moving your body. Just swivel the horn a bit to the left to open the angle of your shoulder and turn your head SLIGHTLY to match. But that would be most likely needed only if you are already turning to the right.

    There is no law against dropping your arm during rests! I need to do that now and then. It lets the blood flow a bit more freely.

    If you practice when seated, you need to make sure the horn is resting comfortably. I have to use a lap pad to get the mouthpiece high enough so I am not holding weight with either arm - just balancing the horn. When standing, I use a hand strap on my left arm, which makes the horn feel more secure and lets me relax overall. You might want one of those regardless of the arm issue.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
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  6. Iím pretty sure you guys are exactly right! I honestly didnít know that Iím supposed to hold the weight of the instrument with my left arm and I thought that it was the opposite, that my left arm was just to balance it and the weight should be resting on my right arm, which when holding the instrument, I have been really tensing up my right arm because it was in an awkward position to be holding the weight. When practicing last night I noticed that I absolutely have been holding the instrument with my right arm in a very tense L-shape. I would of absolutely never realized this on my own, thank you guys so much! Iíll start supporting most of the weight with my left arm and try to hold the instrument in a manner which doesnít force my arm to tense up so much. Iíll also look into a hand strap, that sounds useful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    3,442
    If youíre looking for the hand strap Dave mentioned, see this link:

    Comfy Hand Strap
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
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    )

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by fleuphplayer View Post
    So Iím a high school player and Iíve been practicing a lot to try to improve, going in during lunch, 6th period, sometimes skipping 5th or 7th to go play in band during those periods, after school practice each day then practice later at night time because I really want to improve, and Iíve notice a few things. A) My lips are really strong right now and B) When every I pick up my instrument it sends pain all throughout my bicep, and when my arm is bent it doesnít want to unbend without giving me some pain, itís been happening for about a week and itís really starting to hinder my joy of playing my instrument. Iím thinking I probably need to take a break or stop practicing as much. Thoughts? Also first time posting so if I did something wrong apologizes.
    It concerns me that you are having intense pain and weakness. This is an issue that should be looked at by an orthopedic doctor that specializes in shoulders. You need to identify the source of the problem. For example, is the biceps muscle itself injured, is a biceps tendon injured, or is the pain a result of nerve impingemnt. The biceps has two tendons that insert at the shoulder and the tendon for the long head of the head can be a source of issues. The shoulder has a small gap that the tendon passes through. If you are not using proper shoulder mechanics, than you can narrow that gap so that the tendon rubs against the bones of the shoulder. That can certainly result in biceps pain and spasming. Another possibility is that you are impinging on one of your cervical nerves when you hold the horn.

    An ortho would probably do a physical exam, certain tests for shoulder functions, and some xrays. They may refer to physical therapy. In the mean time, you should trying practicing sitting down with a cushion supporting the horn and see if that helps.

    Mike

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Intermountain West in USA
    Posts
    58
    A few thoughts from a non-expert. First, what is the form factor of the instrument you are playing? Is it a bell-forward American-style baritone (which is more euphonium than baritone) or a British-style upright-bell euphonium? The reason I ask is because they are held very differently. I assume yours is probably a bell-up euphonium, but it's important to know for sure what you are playing because that can make all the difference in how to deal with the problem.

    Second, I agree that you should listen to the advice the more experienced players are giving you. One bit of advice to not ignore is the advice from mbrooke about seeing a medical professional. In addition to what he mentioned (or perhaps implicitly included in what he mentioned) you may be suffering from what is known as a repetitive stress injury. This is an injury that results from repeated small insults to the injured member rather than happening in one big event. Repetitive stress injuries build up over time, and it is important to identify the cause and apply whatever correction is appropriate. Otherwise things will just keep getting worse and worse. Two common types of repetitive stress injury are tennis elbow and carpel tunnel syndrome, but there are many other types as well. Here's a web page devoted to repetitive stress injuries that focuses especially on people your age. https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/...20over%20again.

    Several people have mentioned using a hand strap that goes on the left hand. That makes it easier to hold the horn. I use one of those. I also use a Neotech model 801022 tuba strap. Here's one link for that product. https://www.amazon.com/Neotech-Bass-...13&sr=8-2&th=1. However, I don't use the tuba strap in the configuration that is illustrated in the photos because it restricts the movement of the horn a little too much in my opinion, so I have it configured so it comes from the lower part of the horn, then up under the right arm/shoulder region, then over the top of the right shoulder and back to the upper part of the horn. That takes a little of the weight off my left hand and arm. The combination of those two straps makes it a lot easier for me to hold the horn while taking a lot of the strain off my left arm. What I am describing is somewhat similar to the way some people use a mandolin strap, i.e. up and over the right should rather than looping around the back and over the left shoulder. I have attached a photo.

    I think the advice to use a pad to support the instrument while you are sitting down is excellent.

    I would not wait too long to take care of this because the longer a repetitive stress injury continues the harder it is to recover from it. (By the way, at my former place of employment we had a lot of training on the importance of avoiding repetitive stress injuries.)

    I hope this helps.

    Added note: I missed the part where you said you were holding most of the weight with your right arm.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails f8701a42f52252df7d7407f3dfaa8ecb.jpg  
    Last edited by massmanute; 02-05-2021 at 06:45 AM.

  10. First of all, thank you guys for weighing in and helping me out. A lot of the pain has gone away now that Iíve started to use my left arm in supporting the horn more. I donít think I have an RSI because most of the listed warning signs donít quite apply to me, other than the pain of course. That said, I plan on looking out for those signs as I continue playing. Also Iíve started practicing with a small pillow in my lap as I am practicing and that has helped. Lastly I plan on buying one of those hand straps this weekend. Thank all you once again for your advise, it has helped a bunch.

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