View Full Version : left Wrist injury

12-26-2010, 10:55 AM
I have some kind of tendon injury in my left wrist that was caused by constant uke playing is this common? I noticed that Jake is sporting a left wrist band in his resent videos fashion or injury?

12-26-2010, 12:36 PM
RMIs (repetitive motion injuries) are pretty common for musicians but, honestly, ukes are so lightly strung that I'd think you'd have to play a ton, or with very, very poor technique, to develop an RMI just from playing uke.

Well, I don't know, maybe if you had a uke with a really high action, or just pressed the strings much, much harder than needed, you could do yourself that kind of injury.

After playing guitar and bass for years I have started to develop problems with my left wrist and hand - but I can play uke for hours and hours with no discomfort at all...


12-26-2010, 12:40 PM
I hadn't thought of it until this post, but I had chronic wrist problems, numbing of the fingers, etc. when I played guitar all the time. Since switching to primarily 'uke in April, I've had no problems. One more bonus on the 'ukulele side of the board.

12-26-2010, 12:47 PM
I will have to rethink how I play remember it's just me teaching me :-)

12-26-2010, 12:55 PM
I just noticed yesterday that I had popped up another tiny "ganglion" injury on top of my left wrist, about where I had one as a teen. I seriously doubt it's uke related, I think it's more from SCRUBBING UP THE HOUSE, or an injury I had and forgot about, because I usually shake whatever off if I can keep moving and there's no visible blood. I was hopping up on counters and crap and it's likely more related to lifting my rear up there to reach my greenhouse window glass or the like, because both arms are a little sore from over use.

I try to always keep my wrist as straight as I can and if it hurts at all or is awkward to reach, find a different way to get to a chord or note.

12-26-2010, 01:16 PM
I will have to rethink how I play remember it's just me teaching me :-)

Heh, heh. Lot of us in that boat. I don't know what ukes you have or if you've had them set up. If you're not playing one of the "k brands" you might look into getting the action checked. Even my tenor is ridiculously easy to fret, especially compared to an acoustic guitar, but it has a great action. If you're fighting very high action you're having to work too hard (not to mention the strings are probably going a bit sharp when fretted, too).

If the action on the uke is good, the next thing is to make sure that you're using just enough pressure to get clear notes/chords. When I first started playing guitar I had the fairly common beginner's mistake of taking a death grip on the neck. Use just enough pressure to get clean notes. On a uke you'd be surprised how little pressure even a four-string barre takes if the action is good.

Look at your overall posture when playing. There is probably not one "right" way to play - but if you are feeling discomfort just from holding a playing position that is definitely a bad sign. Figure out what you have to do to make playing comfortable, and stick to that. For some people that means raising the headstock so the uke is at a 45 degree or even steeper angle, while others find that a nearly horizontal instrument is more comfortable. If anything aches after playing for an hour or so, look at your poster. I.e. if your left wrist, arm, shoulder, neck, or back hurt then look for ways to relieve that pressure.


12-27-2010, 04:26 AM
My wrist injury is the reason I picked up the uke. After playing guitar and mandolin for 40 years my wrist went twang one day. If your injury happened suddenly, were you learning a new song or technique? Every time I get in trouble, it's because of something new I’m trying. I tried a wrist strap like tennis players use and that helped a little. Good luck.

swervy jervy
12-27-2010, 05:27 AM
Sore left wrist today after too much Bb chord over the weekend. I'm getting old.

12-27-2010, 10:02 AM
I used to have a lot of wrist problems, especially when I was hardcore with my piano exams, but the uke hasn't posed any problems so far! Now, I just contend with crappy ankles and knees. Geez, I sound 4 times my age.

12-27-2010, 11:54 AM
I was having similar problems like this back in the summer just gone, but it disappeared when I started playing a baritone instead of a soprano uke. With the soprano, I think it was just a poor technique by me, I was definitely cramping my hand to tight, especially on some barre chords, and the pain developed across the outside part of my wrist, and once it started, it came back every time I picked up my uke.
Without doubt, the extra space on the baritone has made me stretch my fingers out better, so all the problem lifted within a couple of days. However, if I play too much baritone uke or guitar for that matter.... I now get stiffness and pain developing under my right shoulder blade (but this is from a previous unrelated injury where I broke my shoulder blade climbing into my narrowboat after a few too many ales), so I guess its part of the course.

Anyway, I think you should do some exercises on your wrist (try one of those powerballs perhaps http://www.powerballs.com/), or vary your left hand position, grip. I doubt your problem is permanent or will become chronic.... just a short rest from playing, and a different technique should sort things out.

12-27-2010, 12:53 PM
My wife gets a sore wrist too when we play a lot (1.5 hours or so a day if I can help it)...course, when hse is learning something new, she holds her uke so tightly that I am surprised she has not snapped the neck off it yet.
We are working on that :)

12-27-2010, 04:07 PM
It's the irony that you have to build up muscle strength in order to relax in order to use less muscle strength. In the meantime, if you work too hard, your tendons and ligaments take too much of that strain. What I always tell students is, if your fingertips hurt, you need to play more. If you have tension/muscular pain STOP. Stop right then. Do nothing else. Stop. Now the good news is that you don't have to stop for long. You can usually just shake out your hand and play after a few seconds. But you don't want that level of unnecessary tension to become habitual. I've often wondered if tendon strain becomes part of muscle memory; that is, your muscles train themselves not to do the work. At any rate, you need to develop strength and flexibility you don't yet have. It's easy to say that the ukulele is easy and lightweight, and easy to fret, but if your hands aren't used to some of the contortions, it's a LOT of effort.

I've played guitar for 20 years, and I've been working through some Hawaiian tunes which have BIG stretches in them on my concert neck (2107 and 2229 being the biggies - easyish on a soprano, not so on a longer neck). Those do make my fingers go ARG. The other was when I was in a punk band and I wasn't used to endless power chords. I had to work out ways of adding more relaxing hand positions to the tunes.

You have to allow your patience to win out over your enthusiasm for a while. Good luck!