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Numb fingers only when playing in the kit but not in the practice pad

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  • Numb fingers only when playing in the kit but not in the practice pad

    Hi, all!

    I've been playing drums for about 15 months now and in the past two months I've increased my practising time to about 2h per day. One of the exercises I've been doing is the one attached to this thread. I'm practising each exercise for 1min and then immediately going to the next one. I'm currently at 125bpm.

    After about 6 or 7 minutes, my thumb, index, middle and ring from the right hand (hihat and ride) go numb. If I stop playing and rest it goes away pretty quickly. If I start playing again, it happens again (usually faster than the first time, in about 3 or 4 minutes).

    The thing is: I don't feel this while practising in the practice pad. I usually practice all the first page from Stick Control for the Snare Drummer from George Lawrence Stone in the same way: 1 min per exercise and then go to the next one. I'm currently at 110bpm. I don't feel my fingers going numb when doing the stick control exercises. I do feel the burn in the arm sometimes, but no numbness. Maybe the hihat and ride transfer more energy to the fingers than the practice pad? I don't know...

    I'm aware of the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, so today I went to a doctor which is specialized in hands. He checked both arms and hands and his recommendation was just rest a bit when I feel the fingers going numb. No recommendation about lowering the amount of practicing or doing wrist strengthener exercise or taking anti inflammatory. Nothing, just recommended me to rest when I feel the numb. He said I should only worry if I start feeling the numbness or pain during the day. I will keep track about this for the next weeks.

    That said, I'd like to take this opportunity to revisit how I'm holding my sticks and also the technique. Any recommendation of video or book? I'd prefer the help of a teacher, but my drum lessons are still paused and no plan when they will return.
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  • #2
    Originally posted by psynchro View Post
    Hi, all!

    I've been playing drums for about 15 months now and in the past two months I've increased my practising time to about 2h per day. One of the exercises I've been doing is the one attached to this thread. I'm practising each exercise for 1min and then immediately going to the next one. I'm currently at 125bpm.

    After about 6 or 7 minutes, my thumb, index, middle and ring from the right hand (hihat and ride) go numb. If I stop playing and rest it goes away pretty quickly. If I start playing again, it happens again (usually faster than the first time, in about 3 or 4 minutes).

    The thing is: I don't feel this while practising in the practice pad. I usually practice all the first page from Stick Control for the Snare Drummer from George Lawrence Stone in the same way: 1 min per exercise and then go to the next one. I'm currently at 110bpm. I don't feel my fingers going numb when doing the stick control exercises. I do feel the burn in the arm sometimes, but no numbness. Maybe the hihat and ride transfer more energy to the fingers than the practice pad? I don't know...

    I'm aware of the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, so today I went to a doctor which is specialized in hands. He checked both arms and hands and his recommendation was just rest a bit when I feel the fingers going numb. No recommendation about lowering the amount of practicing or doing wrist strengthener exercise or taking anti inflammatory. Nothing, just recommended me to rest when I feel the numb. He said I should only worry if I start feeling the numbness or pain during the day. I will keep track about this for the next weeks.

    That said, I'd like to take this opportunity to revisit how I'm holding my sticks and also the technique. Any recommendation of video or book? I'd prefer the help of a teacher, but my drum lessons are still paused and no plan when they will return.
    Sounds like you are using bad technique which is fine on softer surfaces but on a harder less bouncy surface like a hihat more of the shock or vibration is transferred back through the stick to your fingers.

    The solution is practicing free strokes, look up bill bachmans videos on youtube from pasic.
    Last edited by frankzappa; 05-29-20, 07:41 AM.

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    • #3
      Yea like Frank says mate.
      I was going to ask if you were positioning your arms and hands differently from when using the practice pad, to when using your drum kit.
      It sounds like pressure on a nerve to me, maybe in your elbow.
      My wife had Carpal Tunnel and was in agony till she got the operation done. That is pressure on the nerves running through the cartlidge tunnel in the wrist and it was permanent pain. Even the steroid injections made no difference to the pain, and she had a very high pain freshold.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by John.b View Post
        Yea like Frank says mate.
        I was going to ask if you were positioning your arms and hands differently from when using the practice pad, to when using your drum kit.
        It sounds like pressure on a nerve to me, maybe in your elbow.
        My wife had Carpal Tunnel and was in agony till she got the operation done. That is pressure on the nerves running through the cartlidge tunnel in the wrist and it was permanent pain. Even the steroid injections made no difference to the pain, and she had a very high pain freshold.
        That is also a possibility, maybe he's using a different technique on the hihat, for instance french grip feels kind of natural on a hihat or ride. If using a french grip your thumb is on top and if your technique is not great your thumb will take the vibrations (been there my self).

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        • #5
          Your grip is too tight.
          Alan
          ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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          • #6
            haha, first thing in my head.. it might be that.. on a practice pad you dont transition between any surfaces, so
            maybe you squeeze the sticks more on the drumkit.. ..try focus if you do.. and if so, that's a result from technique
            (and/or lack of strength) drummers with 'good hands' are more relaxed.. but this is, because their hands are much
            stronger .. so, in a relaxed state they still are stronger than 'lesser practicing' drummers.. some say 'you have to relax
            while playing drums' ..that's true (after impact).. but also you have to 'build' the muscles ..so, check frankzappa's tip..
            it are pretty good video's..
            Audio | Video | Roland/Yamaha e-kit | Sonor/Gretsch a-kit | Zildjian/Sabian/Ufip cymbals

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            • #7
              Here is a lesson on free strokes, you should use free strokes that end in the up position when practicing anything that has one stick height like singles, doubles, etc. You will advance 70 times faster, trust me on this one. This guy used to be my teacher a long time ago and in a week I made more progress than a year by my self.

              Last edited by frankzappa; 05-29-20, 02:32 PM.

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              • #8
                Here is a good one, there are 4 parts, this is part one. Check out the other ones on youtube:

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by frankzappa View Post

                  Sounds like you are using bad technique which is fine on softer surfaces but on a harder less bouncy surface like a hihat more of the shock or vibration is transferred back through the stick to your fingers.

                  The solution is practicing free strokes, look up bill bachmans videos on youtube from pasic.
                  Thanks, Frank. I will check the videos for sure. That will be my focus for now.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by John.b View Post
                    Yea like Frank says mate.
                    I was going to ask if you were positioning your arms and hands differently from when using the practice pad, to when using your drum kit.
                    It sounds like pressure on a nerve to me, maybe in your elbow.
                    My wife had Carpal Tunnel and was in agony till she got the operation done. That is pressure on the nerves running through the cartlidge tunnel in the wrist and it was permanent pain. Even the steroid injections made no difference to the pain, and she had a very high pain freshold.
                    That's what my thought too. In the practice pad I believe it's more a German grip. In the kit I use more American and French (for hihat and ride).

                    I will also try to rearrange my kit to see if I can a more ergonomic setup.

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                    • #11
                      Thank you all. Really helpful contributions. I appreciate them!

                      I will focus on the videos Frank sent for the next days.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        good luck, if you play that stick control page (with the 8th notes) do you play it like this ? (w moeller dynamics)
                        some things 'work' and help on a drumset.. and some things work on one surface (and then less on another surface)
                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLpSe8yhi5o
                        Audio | Video | Roland/Yamaha e-kit | Sonor/Gretsch a-kit | Zildjian/Sabian/Ufip cymbals

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by frankzappa View Post
                          Here is a good one, there are 4 parts, this is part one. Check out the other ones on youtube:
                          that green snare is machine gunning
                          Roland TD9 (KD8, FD9), Yamaha DTX Multi12 (KT10, HH65, TP100), Zendrum EXP (Stompblock) || Scarlett 6i6 > imac; 2i4 >macbook || Superior Drummer 3, Logic || Yamaha HS7s, Yamaha DBR10, ATH-M30x || DIY compact a-kit, Mapex Meridian, Zildjian Ks, some As and Sabians and ... || youtube

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                          • #14
                            The numbness you describe is exactly in the distribution of the median nerve which is the same nerve affected by carpal tunnel syndrome. If you experience symptoms in the little finger and half the ring finger then that is your ulnar nerve which usually occurs due to compression at the elbow level (i.e. leaning on something with your elbow etc.)

                            If your symptoms are that fleeting then you probably don't have CTS quite yet, or a very mild version in any case. That it only occurs if you play on the hi hat or ride suggest that perhaps there is something ergonomically not right about how you play these kit pieces. It also seems coincidental that you've recently increased your practicing routine and the symptoms have occurred at that time. Suggestions would be:

                            - if it has just developed recently, it could be that your are perhaps practising a bit too much. try to perhaps do no exercises for 2 weeks and then return but at 50% (amount not speed) for 2 weeks and see if that improves things
                            - review how you have set up your hi-hat and ride. is it at the right height and angle? do you have excessive wrist flexion when you play (is your wrist bent too much to just to produce normal strokes)
                            - review how tight you are holding the sticks in the right hand. if you hold the sticks too tightly and play hard with the right hand then the vibration will be mainly transferred through the stick into your wrist and can trigger CTS
                            - ensure you have an adequate warm up and cool down period before sticking exercises
                            - ensure that you stretch your fingers and wrists periodically
                            - perhaps take more breaks when you play exercises rather than just back to back for 2 hours
                            - take a video of yourself playing on the pad and with hats/ride. examine them closely and look at what differences there are in wrist positioning and movement when you play on different pieces.
                            - may be useful to post those videos of your hands on here and get some feedback over whether it looks right or not
                            - develop some flexibility in grip styles as others have suggested
                            - you could try wrist splinting at night to see if that improves things. often you can buy the wrist splints over the counter but they can be expensive sometimes so this is very much a last option if you've addressed the others.

                            you should not explore the other options for CTS (medications, steroids, surgery) unless you've rigorously done all of the above, and you have symptoms that impair your ability to use your hand at other times. the other treatment options are fairly blunt measures and come with risks. no point going down that route unless you've definitely tried everything else first, or if its so bad that you can't do day to day things or can't sleep properly because of pain e.g. John B's wife etc.

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