Thumb and wrist pain - what I learned
Hi all, I just decided it was a good time to talk about a subject that has (literally) pained me for years. I'm sharing mostly to help others as it's under control for me now, but anyone else with advice may help me and others too so I'd love to hear your stories. Here's mine. Skip to the end for advice on dealing with injury. I'm not a physical therapist though, so take it with a grain of salt:
It was always kind of uncomfortable for me to play and I didn't practice often, but when I did I loved it and went all out. I would sight read the Rubank Selected Studies and other etudes for fun. I was a note adrenaline junkie, always looking for complex, intricate things to play. I didn't practice mastery of pieces, I practiced reading them and playing fast.
I thought I was pretty good, and my ability to play complex etudes got me into Interlochen Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, where I quickly learned otherwise. I was last chair by a mile and my teacher told me I got in on potential and better work really hard.
My right thumb often hurt, I got allergies or sinus infections and nose bleeds, and I had tons of tension habits that slowed my fingers, made me bite the reed, and closed my throat, affecting tone. I spent a lot of time crying in the practice room, and the rest either struggling to catch up on homework or staying up until 4am with the friends I unwound with, keeping a quotes list of hilarious things we said.
And then suddenly it all caught up with me. I remember lying in bed, flat on my back, with shooting pain from my ears to my fingertips on both sides. The nurse told me thoracic outlet syndrome and mild scoliosis. The scoliosis there wasn't really anything to do about. Thoracic outlet syndrome was the problem though.
TOS is where the muscles in your neck and shoulders pinch off nerves and blood vessels to your arms, causing weakness, tension, numbness and tingling, and potentially carpal tunnel syndrome. It's caused by poor posture, insufficient sleep, and tension. I had all of these in spades due to anxiety I wouldn't learn to deal with directly until my late thirties.
They put me on a strict playing schedule that was starkly at odds with the expectation that I play for two hours in band every day, practice for four more, and play in private lessons and jazz improvisation. Instead I was down to five minutes per day, total. Gradually this increased, over a period of weeks.
I managed to recover enough to finish there and go on to major in music education, but the pain became a recurring reminder that I had to take things slowly. I met many other clarinetists and other musicians similarly afflicted. Clarinet and the violin family, especially cello, seemed to be particularly dangerous this way. I bought Playing Less Hurt, by the principal cellist of the Minnesota orchestra, who is living proof that this kind of injury can be gotten past with care and dedication.
My senior recital went well, and I even played in a youth orchestra in Carnegie Hall, but I knew I wasn't going into pro playing without being able to play for six hours per day. I finished the education degree with the idea that I would teach high school and then college and become a clarinet teacher.
Student teaching was hell. It was seventh to twelfth grade band in a disadvantaged school that had a rapidly improving band program with a star conductor. The conductor there led through charisma and was loved. I did not and was not. The students would disrupt rehearsal by making a noise in their throat without moving their lips so you couldn't see where it started, and it would spread like a fire across the band. I failed and was denied a chance at another placement.
I went into programming instead as a way to play the bills and gradually learned to make the music I wanted to play and to be kinder to myself, playing clarinet in a folk band. I now play lap style slide guitar as well as flute and clarinet to minimize the time spent on any one instrument. It helps.
What I've learned from all this:
Learn to recognize early signs of injury. Pay attention to tingles, little jolts of pain, loss of coordination, low energy, etc. Listen to your body and your emotions.
If you're going through difficulties and still need to play, pick your battles. Play the solos and skip the ensemble sections, etc.
Warm up with heat or gentle motion to get blood flowing. Consider applying cold afterwards to minimize inflammation.
Manage emotions. If you experience frustration, figure out why you are stuck. Practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent. As you play today, so you will play tomorrow. Learn to slow things down and relax. Just sit in the chair and listen to your body. If that's not comfortable, consider yoga or a walk instead of practice right then. Learn to clear your mind of thoughts when entering the practice room. You don't need words in your head, only music.
Anxiety and depression are no joke, and it's worth being proactive about them. You don't have to be having panic attacks or suicidal ideation to be affected negatively by these things. Sometimes the symptoms are mostly physical, such as tension, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, or aches and pains. If in doubt, the next ten years of your life maybe going better is worth risking a couple hundred bucks to get checked out.
Learn to be comfortable in your body. Playing Less Hurt is a great book. Alexander Technique is helpful. Physical therapy is too. Yoga, qi gong, tai chi, running, biking. I've had good results from whirlwind staff, the bo staff technique made famous by ninja turtles. It's a good wrist exercise for preventing injury if you get into it during times you're not already hurting, but be careful!
There are some good targeted stretches for TOS, such as putting your arms straight out to the sides, elbows bent so your hands are straight up, like a stick up. Lean gently into a corner like this and you'll feel the burn in the front of your shoulders.
Good posture helps, but you can't force it. Forcing your shoulders back instead of changing how you balance when you sit or working out to improve musculature will just give you brutal knots between your shoulder blades. Find a way to do push-ups, rows, pull ups, and deadlifts. But be careful starting any exercise regime while injured! You may have to recover first and then get into the business of prevention.
Clarinet is the heaviest instrument supported by one thumb without other support. I tried neck straps, the Phred (a stick that attaches to the thumb rest and rests on your chair), different thumb rests and thumb positions, wrist braces, a lighter metal clarinet (seriously, metal clarinets are way lighter than grenadilla wood!) and resting the bell on my knees.
All of these can help, but for me the one thing that permanently and completely improved life for my thumb was the one thing not recommended by teachers: resting the bell on my knees. They say not to do this because it can affect intonation and tone on the bottom notes, but the low register is flat there and the high register is sharp so it's a wash anyway and it means I don't hurt any more. I've often thought that one could make a bell attachment that makes this work better by lifting it off the knees a bit, but honestly it's fine without that.
The TOS and arm pain was a harder thing to fix, but was improved by all of the above things, including dealing with the thumb, because thumb tension can radiate into the arms and spread to cause other problems. Also, correcting my biting habit and throat tension was important. I played double lip embouchure for a while and practiced breathing exercises without the clarinet.
So that's my story in a nutshell, and I hope it helps someone else who is hurting.
submitted by manifestsilence
[Modern] Casual Ninja Deck - Returning player
Hey everyone ! I hope you're all doing well in these trying times and that you are all safe from Corona. I hadn't played Magic in a long time, but being stuck at home for a long time resparked my love for playing card games online (first was Yu-Gi-Oh!, and now this). However, unlike with ygo, I absolutely did not follow the Modern meta over the years, (and tbh I never really did, I always played the game very casually), so when I tried to get back into things, I found myself struggling with my Ninja deck (which I always liked using, and upgraded a little bit since new Ninjutsu cards were released kinda recently I believe).
So I figured that I'd try to come to you guys for a little advice on how to make it better, which should be really easy since the deck is probably utter garbage lol
The basis of the deck is really simple; Play some unblockable chumps and use them to trigger ninjutsu and put a bunch of powerful ninja with varying effects on the field. I play next to no instants/sorceries because I have no idea which ones would be worth running, but some removal seemed necessary.
// 60 Maindeck
// 30 Creature
1 [[Fallen Shinobi]]
3 [[Higure, the Still Wind]]
2 [[Okiba-Gang Shinobi]]
2 [[Throat Slitter]]
1 [[Silent-Blade Oni]]
(All the big powerful Ninjas ! Don't need to run a lot of them because you generally don't wanna see them in your opening hand and Higure can tutor them).
4 [[Ingenious Infiltrator]]
4 [[Ninja of the Deep Hours]]
3 [[Sakashima's Student]]
(Some cheaper ones. Ingenious Infiltrator and Ninja of the Deep Hours constitute my draw engine, while Sakashima's Student can almost always do something useful with his effect, and is all around very versatile.)
3 [[Slither Blade]]
3 [[Mist-Cloaked Herald]]
4 [[Changeling Outcast]]
(The unblockable chumps. These are very cheap and are used to cheat out Ninjas using their Ninutsu ability. Usually you wanna see at least 1 or 2 of these in your opening hand.)
// 8 Instant
4 [[Vapor Snag]]
(Some cheap removal, nothing much to say here.)
// 22 Land
4 Polluted Delta
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Watery Grave
The main problems I've been running into is basically vs aggro decks I die before I can bring out anything really threatening, and vs control decks well all my guys just die to removal or get countered pretty much. I think the main problem may be that the deck is too slow, but Idk how to fix that. Ideally it should be kind of a midrange deck ? Hope you guys can help me figure this out, and have a nice day :D
submitted by JoinedForUndertale