View Full Version : Is there a better way?..

11-06-2011, 10:28 PM
Hello Everyone!

I've been playing (soprano) ukulele for about a year now and guitar for about 6 years. I have long arms, and no matter how I try to hold the uke when I play, it seems to require that I bend my wrist at the joint while strumming or finger-picking. Over time, I've started to experience pain that shoots through my wrist, coupled with a numbness and lack of sensation in my fingers. Could this just be arthritis and totally unrelated? Perhaps carpal tunnel? I'm 25 years old. Is this a question for WebMD? LOL

Has anyone else experienced problems like this? I really enjoy playing the ukulele, but if I can't get this pain to go away then I'll have to purchase a tenor (perhaps the larger body will remedy my problem) or only play guitar. In all of my years of playing guitar, I've never had any discomfort other than when I first learned barre chords (the pain went away once the muscles adjusted).


Thanks :)

11-06-2011, 11:55 PM
I've been told repeatedly to strum by bending my arm at my elbow and keeping my arm straight from my elbow through my hand, and not to strum by flexing my wrist. I would recommend playing with a good wrist brace for a while as a way of training yourself to do this, and to position your strumming arm so that your elbow is as far away from the ukulele as it needs to be to keep your wrist unbent. Good luck!

11-07-2011, 12:58 AM
Go see your doctor, sounds like carpel tunnel (I'm not an MD) and could result in permanent damage. Repetitive stress injuries may occur at any age. g2

11-07-2011, 03:46 AM
Sound as though some kind of strap would help a lot.Once the
uke is 'sitting' in a good posotion,chording/fretting should be a
lot easier on your wrists.Just my opinion,as a comfirmed strap
user on my Tenor/Baritone sizes.Have no problem with my sopranos!

11-07-2011, 04:05 AM
It does sound rather like carpal tunnel; please go see your doctor.

11-07-2011, 04:17 AM
See if you can try a tenor...
I'm pretty lanky myself and I find the tenor much easier to play in that regard.

modern day ukuleleist
11-07-2011, 05:38 AM
I have the same problem, and it's definitely carpal tunnel.

Apparently the proper technique for holding a ukulele is to sort of wedge the bottom of the uke in the crook of your elbow, but when I do so my strumming hand is far up the fretboard.

Hopefully a tenor solves the problem.

11-07-2011, 06:24 AM
Go to the doctor.

But also, try to keep both wrists straight. Don't put a wrist brace on either hand. For your fretting hand you need movement. For your strumming hand you need wrist movement for strumming. You should be strumming and whatever using your wrist, not your arm. Trust me -- this is easier said than done. The size of the ukulele does not matter. Size is only a personal preference.

Good luck. Now, go to the doctor.

11-07-2011, 06:38 AM
I will assume that you are strumming at the point where the neck and body join together (the 12th fret on soprano or 14th on concert/tenor), and not trying to strum this over the puka, as if this were a guitar.

If that's the case, then by all means take the advice already offered regarding going to see a doctor and trying to adjust your strum style so your arm/wrist is straight.

But if you are strumming over the puka, stop. Move up the body and see if that feels more comfy.

mr moonlight
11-07-2011, 06:43 AM
Take care of those hands and wrists!!!! 25 is way too young to be developing problems like that. It can happen to anyone at any age, but it's not a problem you want to have this early in life. Are you using your arm to hold the uke and strumming with just your wrist on that arm? If so, get a strap.

mm stan
11-07-2011, 08:44 AM
Yes Yes go to see a doctor and rest for a while...is your pain in both hands and wrists..

11-07-2011, 08:58 AM
Yes Yes go to see a doctor and rest for a while...is your pain in both hands and wrists..

Actually, it seems to primarily be bothering only my right wrist. I'd love to visit a doctor, but it will have to wait until I move to China for work. My employer will provide me with health insurance, something which I don't currently have.

Thanks for the advice everyone! I guess I should give it some rest and try changing my elbow position so that my wrist can stay mostly straight. < Awesome tip mds725! It seems really simple, but to be honest, I hadn't thought of that!

Rock on everyone \m/! You people are awesome!

11-07-2011, 09:49 AM
If your arm is not hitting the right spot for strumming, you might consider a "long neck" soprano. A concert or tenor neck on a soprano body might fit you better. A strap should be a big help too. Ohana has a tenor neck soprano and you can get long neck versions of the Flea as well. I have a Kala long neck soprano (concert neck on soprano body) that I like. You might only need a little rest and maybe some physical therapy. Take it easy and try not to do any more damage, so make sure not to stress your wrist.

Good luck