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Forum Contributor 2010-2016
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Discussion Starter #1
This is what we down under call a whinge. A few years ago I developed arthritis (mild when I compare it with others I know) in my right top pinky joint. It made playing from C down on both tenor and clarinet a pain. But the good news was that after a while of being inflamed it settled down to hardly hurting at all.

Now it's my left, and if anything it's worse because it feel like I have to use a little more force, what with the rods and everything. I'm waiting for it to settle down like my right did, but danged if I can remember how long it took. It's been sore for about three months now. Anti-inflammatory drugs don't seem to help the specific pain involved in pressing those extension keys.

In general, I can minimise the problem on sax, which is just as well because that's when it's worst. It's pretty easy to avois the bell notes. But crossing the break on clarinet just HAS to happen all the time and it's causing me to wince while I play.

Just to be Pollyanna, I'm glad that so far there has been no hint of it occurring in my other fingers, but when I look at my 95 year old mother's hands.......

How unjust is it that our strongest fingers do the least mechanical work but our weakest fingers are called upon to do work that seems impossible even without arthritis?
 

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Aw dang Pat, that really stinks!
How good is your right pinky at getting around the spatula keys on clarinet? All the left hand pinky notes are there too!
Unless you're on an Albert system.... Then you're kind of screwed.

If I could I'd loan you my pinkys for a while. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Bandmommy you are the BEST. I'll PM you my address and wait for the package of pinkies! (lol as my kids would write)

Seriously, on clarinet I just can't break the habit of "double teaming" my pinky fingerings. My first ever clarinet was a Czech made Selmer Studente Console and the right hand B/E key would not speak without the left hand helping. Now that fingering is so deeply embedded in my 61 year old muscle memory that I can't seem to change it. It doesn't help that it's not available on sax either which is now my main instrument.

So, kind of screwed it is. But experience tells me it's only a matter of time before the pain fades.
 

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I know what you mean about 'double teaming'. It took me a long time to figure out that my clarinet was adjusted well enough that I didn't need the added support of the left pinky.
Maybe you could fool yourself into thinking that the left pinky is 'helping' even if it's only touching the lever and not actually pressing it?

If not, would you be embarrassed if the items in the package were a bit 'girlie' in size and have polish on the nails?
 

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I've never been offered pinkys, but I have gotten other fingers on a regular basis from folks I have met.

My physician recommended that I take 2 Aleve in the morning and it really helps my fingers feel better when I play and do repair work throughout the day.
 

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I don't have arthritis but I've gotten tendonitis in my LH pinky and ring finger. I have a series of exercises I do every day before I start, usually while the reed is soaking.

NOTE: These may not be a good idea to do if your tendons are currently inflamed. It's more like something to do to keep the inflammation from returning.

1) Jello hands. Let your wrists go limp and shake your hands. Let them flop around for 20-30 seconds until they feel like jello.
2) Use your left hand to grab your right forearm just below the wrist. Rotate your right wrist in a counter-clockwise motion. Make 10 circles. Now rotate your right wrist in a clockwise motion. Make 10 circles. Repeat for left wrist.
3) Jello hands.
4) Hold your arms straight out in front of you, fingertips pointed straight up, palms facing away from you. Close your hands, kind of like making a fist. Open them back up like you were when you began. Do 25 of these. Jello hands. Do 25 more. You want to get up to 4 sets of 25 for a total of 100 but if you can't make it that far in the beginning, just do what you can do and gradually work your way up. I think I started at 3 sets.
5) Hold your arms and hands out in front of you as if you're playing the piano. Tense the muscles in your hands and forearms. Try to move your fingers, playing "air piano", as fast as possible. You'll start to feel a burn in your forearms. When you can't take it anymore, stop.
6) Jello hands.
7) Do #5 again but try to keep the muscles in your hands and forearms as relaxed as possible. You'll feel a burn, similar to before but a little different. And the burn will usually take longer to be felt than it takes to feel in #5.
8) Jello hands.

At this point, I quickly run through most (not all) of the stretches Matt Otto demonstrates in this video.


When you get the hang of it, you can do this in around 5 minutes.

When I started this routine, I had recovered enough to where I could practice, but there was still a little pain. Not enough to keep me from playing, but enough to be noticeable. Since starting this, I'm been pain free. I don't notice anything during or after my sessions.
 
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