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I've had tendon and or sinew injuries from playing shakuhachi. I dealt with them successfully by eliminating unecessary tension I was previously not aware if. I actually found it a positive experience. The pain was showing me specifically what I needed to change. Lately, however, I've been experiencing a slight tingling and numbness in my right middle and index fingers. I think it's more like nerve injury. I'm not sure if it's even shakuhachi related although I suspect it is. Which brings me to my question. Has anybody experienced nerve damage from shakuhachi playing? If so, what are the causes and cures? All I can think of is shedding more tension but this type of injury seems a little more difficult to locate the source of irritation. Has anybody else experienced this or something similar?
If it is just starting in the past week or two, I would characterize it as "nerve tightness" rather than nerve injury. I would say that this is a posture issue perhaps, starting at the neck and shoulders. The main nerve branch for the arm is traveling down it with the brachial artery. The nerve is descending from the spinal chord along the shoulder blades and moving through the shoulder joint down into the arm. There is a great deal of potential for tension in this area between the neck and the shoulder. Many people get rounded shoulders, not through any fault or cause other than our eyes are in the front of our head and we tend to work on things before us rather than behind us. You can stretch the area easily enough. One way is to put the right hand on the top of the head while standing and tilt the neck to the right side. At the same time reach for the floor with the left hand. Maintain the stretch for up to 20 or 30 seconds and then do the other side. Also, locking your hands behind you and lifting your chest and head. Some other exercises that might help are large and small arm circles, that tai chi move where you lift your arms over your head and then let them fall while flexing the knees slightly (the eight pieces of brocade is a good tai chi routine for basic fitness and circulation), and exterior shoulder rotation with a rubber band (you can find it on google). Laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor for several minutes is good for relaxing away tension in your back, neck, and shoulders.
You are right it is a nerve issue, but it is more likely that some muscular tension/swelling/inflamation is putting pressure on the nerve and causing the numbness, rather than any "damage" to the nerve. If you can stretch out the area in question and elongate the muscle, and reduce its circumference, the pressure should abate and the symptomatic numbness should fade. An anti-inflammatory may also offer some temporary relief.
You know, I am not sure of the age group you belong to, but tingling in your fingers/hands and numbness can be a sign of heart disease. So, step one would probably be to get the blood pressure checked, on both arms. Report that kind of thing to a doctor and then go on from there. Baring a heart condition, you could get into some of the things listed above.
David Sawyer has posted some excellent stretches/exercises on his site-
if you had damage before, perhaps what you are experiencing now is a lingering effect of that. or, carpal tunnel's symptoms include what you mentioned....
By Mayo Clinic staff
Carpal tunnel syndrome typically starts gradually with a vague aching in your wrist that can extend to your hand or forearm. Other common carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include:
* Tingling or numbness in your fingers or hand, especially your thumb and index, middle or ring fingers, but not your little finger. This sensation often occurs while holding a steering wheel, phone or newspaper or upon awakening. Many people "shake out" their hands to try to relieve their symptoms. As the disorder progresses, the numb feeling may become constant.
* Pain radiating or extending from your wrist up your arm to your shoulder or down into your palm or fingers, especially after forceful or repetitive use. This usually occurs on the palm side of your forearm.
* A sense of weakness in your hands and a tendency to drop objects.
as far as taiji type exercises, the very opening of most any style taiji is excellent- hard to describe without showing, but basically, standing naturally, feet shoulder width apart, without lifting shoulders and with elbows HEAVY, pointing downward, lift hands up with arms fully extended (natural curve, not locked) almost as if puppet strings were attached to your wrists, or floating to the top[ of water..... at shoulder height, heavy shoulders, heavy elbows begin to sink, let hands drift across top of the water, then heavy wrists, fingers floating behind until hands are down. ALL the muscles from shoulders to fingertips should be relaxed; the extension is through the joints and ligaments, not muscle tension.... cheng man ching i recall advocated this opening move done repeatedly for hand/ wrist care. i haven't had the issue you mentioned, but found this excellent whenever i needed to stretch out my hands in a relaxed way, or had soreness from over-use.
actually, it's very clearly shown on the teaser for the dvd here
at any rate, numbness in the fingers is something you should uncover the cause of. if it is carpal tunnel or a related problem, the sooner you address it the better.
Thank you gentlemen!
After reading Lodro's thread "Qi and playing the shakuhachi" I went out and bought "THE Tao of Tai-chi Chuan" and "The Tao of Meditation" both by Jou, Tsung Hwa. So I'm really primed to receive your kind tips. It's obvious. This horse is being led to water. It's appreciated.
Hi Jim - Check out my post on RSI injuries. Goto Author search and type in
"bblyman2000". If you have any questions you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, but it could take as much as a week to get back to you. I try to avoid the computer as much as possibe. You can always call me at:
631-672-5698. If I don't answer leave a message, phone number and best times to call. Good luck and be well, Bob.
My copy of "the Athletic Musician" is on it's way.
Glenn, thanks for the David Sawyer website. There is a lot to check out there.
Low on the totem pole, you are right on. I've got bad posture. I've always had bad posture and have probably been lucky to get away with it this long. (I'm 63). My heart and blood pressure are very good. That little exercise with the hand on top of the head is so simple but stretches me in a place the doesn't usually get stretched. You sound like a professional therapist or are you just a educated survivor? Thanks!
Jim Thompson wrote:
Lately, however, I've been experiencing a slight tingling and numbness in my right middle and index fingers.
Jim, if you want some relief to your finger issues then try holding these acupressure points for about 3 minutes each with the middle finger of your unaffected hand onto you affected arm. The pressure need be only light to medium strength (no real pain necessary - looking for 'good pain'). Acupoints tend to be in slight depressions so search around the area until you find a depression. Often the acupoint might be a tender spot too, and might radiate a sensation up or down that particular meridian, in your case down to your finger(s). Also try to be sensitive to the feeling of Qi (warmth, buzzing, other feelings) in both the treating finger and the area being treated. If you can feel it, then you are probably at the right point. Try to move Qi from your treatment finger into the affected arm/hand area using your 'intent'. Some people don't feel Qi straight away (sometimes not ever) so don't be put off. The shoulder points in the Triple Heater (back of shoulder) and Large Intestine diagrams can be useful points for carpal tunnel if you want to try those too.
The exact points you are after are (refer to uploaded pictures):
Pericardium 5, 6, 7, 8
Large Intestine 4
Triple Heater 4, 5
If you're having difficulty locating points let me know
By lodro at 2009-04-21
By lodro at 2009-04-21
By lodro at 2009-04-21
Last edited by Lodro (2009-04-22 01:11:51)
Jeff Cairns wrote:
"the Athletic Musician" an excellent book. It helped me a great deal.
Agreed. I read through some stuff this morning in my copy that really cleared up some questions that I had about warming up (not only ON the instrument, but warming up one's body before playing). A great book for musicians.