When to apply heat and cold
1. Apply cold when muscles are aching after having been heavily used. This will cool off overheated muscle tissue. No more than 10 minutes of applying a cold pack should be enough.
That pain in your wrist might not be the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome...
One cause of wrist pain for fiddle and violin players is because of our overuse of two muscles:
"Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus" and "Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis"
Those are the long and short muscles of your forearm and they look a bit like this:
To Stretch Your Extensor Carpi Radialis
1. Straighten your left elbow in order to lengthen these muscles fully.
2. With your elbow straight and palm facing down toward the floor...
3. Use your right hand to pull your left hand down and out.
2. Apply heat when muscles are at rest. You should only need to apply heat for 10 minutes.
These muscles are severely tested when we play the fiddle for long periods of time.
They can become overworked, irritated, swollen, and downright angry at us when we twist our left arm and actuate our fingers for hours on end.
These are not just muscles alone, they are part of a conduit of muscle and nerves. When these muscles become inflamed and swollen, they can pinch the nerves to the wrist and fingers, causing pain in your wrist and (eventually) numbness in your fingers.
There are some things we can do to correct this condition.
1. Massage pressure points to reduce swelling.
2. Apply cold immediately after playing, when the muscles are still "hot" from being used.
3. When not playing, when the muscles are well rested, apply heat to promote blood circulation and healing.
4. Periodically stretch the muscles.
5. Try to avoid long practice sessions. Have more, but shorter, practice session, and stretch in between practices.
The Extensor Carpi Radialis muscle pressure points are easy to find and massage.
1. Run your right thumb up your left forearm towards your elbow.
2. If you feel a painful lump, you have most probably found an inflamed Extensor Carpi Radialis.
3. Gently massage the muscle until it loosens up.