Injury + daily practice question

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    Four-month newbie here. I played 4-5 hours a day, every day in the last month and injured my left thumb. It only hurts when I press it hard against the back of the uke’s neck (for barre chords). For anyone else that’s experienced this, what’s the best way to heal other than dropping the uke temporarily to recover?

    Second question: I hear some uke professionals say that their skills diminish unless they practice *every day* — for those of you that have been playing actively 3+ years, is this your experience as well? (if so, that must be an inconvenience for pro uke players that look to take a break!)

    • This topic was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by ukeduke.

    It’s hard to comment on the first question as I’ve never seen you play. If I had to guess, I’d say the pain is caused by a form issue or pressing too hard.

    Try to take a break until the pain resides. Then, can you post a video playing? I’d be happy to check the above.

    For the second question, time isn’t as important as what you are doing with your time. Our first lesson on day 1 of music college was how to practice. Check out that article, it shares exactly what was taught to us.

    But to give you a direct answer, playing is the same as using a muscle for sport. If you don’t use it for awhile, you will have to work at getting your chops back. Taking a day off won’t effect you, it would have to be a prolonged break.


    Hey Ukeduke,

    You do an impressive amount of practicing so it’s clear that you’re motivated. The prospect of putting down your uke for a time so that you can heal must be a bummer. I have only been playing for a little over a year so I don’t have a wealth of experience; however, I do have experience playing with hand and thumb pain. Mine due to arthritis…yours, probably a strained muscle/tendon. Tendonitis is very common at the base of the thumb, and is often caused by overuse or repetitive motion. Unfortunately, the solution is to avoid the activities that cause the pain. Having said this, I have found certain work-arounds that allow me to move forward despite the hand issues. Maybe something I do could be helpful to you. Here are a few tips:

    Concentrate on some other aspect of your study and limit the left hand to simple chord shapes that do not hurt your hand. You could focus on complex right hand picking, clawhammer, or you could study the caged method to find an alternatives to the barre chords that hurt your hand. Additionally, sometimes my hand only hurts during a particularly difficult passage in a piece. In this case, when I practice I will finger the chord but not press down hard. It doesn’t sound great, but I am learning the song or technique, and I know that I’ll be able to play it when I feel better. Another thing that works for me is shorter practice sessions. I’m the extreme, but I practice a dozen times a day for 5 – 15 minutes each time. Sometimes I wrap the base of my thumb with a self-adhesive bandage. It doesn’t interfere with playing much and the support/compression seems to give me extra playing time. I’ve noticed that they sell thumb braces designed for tendonitis of the large thumb joint. I may give one a try.

    Finally, check the action on your ukulele. Again, I’m pretty new to this so I have limited experience, but I have found that relatively small changes in the action can make a big difference with comfort if you have hand pain issues. My new uke came with fairly high action and it was difficult for me to play. I filed the bridge to take nearly a mm off at the 12th fret, and it’s much better (though I still need to work on it a little). Another thing to try is using light gauge strings while you are healing. Most think they don’t sound as good, but I’ve tried them, and they are easier to play. Hope this helps you.
    Good luck.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by wannabgood.

    @ukeduke I have found much help from the YT Channel and webpage called diyjointpainrelief.
    Proceed at your own risk or ask a professional. Can’t recommend but just sharing what helped me overcome serious tendonitis. His techniques truly work within a week or so of daily practice.


    Thanks Andrew, the thumb has somewhat recovered.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by ukeduke.

    Thanks for your help!


    Thanks for your help, I have retreated to only practicing 1 hour a day, and the thumb has been slowly recovering.


    I’m also relatively new to such songs as featured on RC.
    When I had hand pain that didn’t go away like I thought, I changed to resting for most of the time. While recovering, I only occasionally played and then only briefly. Easy shapes, played slowly with light fretting, intentionally watching my fretting hand to ensure it was free of any strain..kept it super relaxed. As my thought is, songs can be re-learnt. Chronic damage harder to fix, if at all.
    I found it didn’t take long to get back into it, while keeping in mind not to overdo it in future. Later, upon starting the RC courses, I paid attention to the hand form sections.
    (This has just been my experience and isn’t intended as a recommendation to play while injured).


    Rest is an important part of a good practise. Muscle memory really Works. You’ll remember previos practise. No problem.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by rebeca.
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