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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I'm after some advice; after a visit to doctors with wrist pain and tremors in my hand I've found I have carpal tunnel - I'm following the docs advice but I have some sax specific questions.

I know some may be sceptical but I've only encountered pain since buying an old Conn new wonder alto, no issues with my previous modern ergonomics - my hands are huge and I have really long fingers, I've been awkwardly twisting my hands to play the compaçt mechanisms because I love the sound - my hands ached the first time I played it.

Has anyone had similar issues with vintage horns ? Are there any suggestions for vintage horns better for larger hands - might I be be better trying a tenor ? The issue is not stretching but the inward twisting in both hands.

Failing that, any recommendations for modern horns with a great sound and less strenuous ergonomics ?

Regards
 

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Extension or flexion...hand bent past "flat" in either direction at the wrist is a problem/risk. For the right hand, with us its Extension, bending upward from the typical position when "in" the thumb rest. I suppose flexion is possible but that would be pretty odd.

I would suggest, whenever possible for your right hand, if you can somewhat "float" without gripping the horn so to speak, that will help. It won't help your playing however!..its not easy but definitely worth mixing it into your routine. Take your thumb out of the hook, and go from there.

Also, stick your right elbow out to the side, sort of exaggerate...and see if that provides any sense of reduced restriction through the carpal tunnel. I just saw Harry Allen and he sort of has that old school position that looks like that...either for technique or for prevention/Rx, I don't know.

Further, with larger hands, you may be exaggerating from the normal overall right hand position viz. extension at wrist + extension of fingers (at large knuckle)

Left hands are less "out of biomechanical neutral" generally. But can be problematic.

Make sure you're not fighting your mouthpiece on or off the neck which can set things up. Teflon tape is a great non-grease trick. Also how long or hard you're actually grabbing your case...I know it sounds minute, but when people are getting into advanced inflammatory states, the smallest things start to add up.

As usual, technique often trumps hardware. So before shopping around for minute changes in horn configurations, see if you can tweak your/the normal positioning. I did/do this for a living with computer users...you should see some of the things I see! Luckily/unluckily we have less "stuff" to play with to remediate the risk.
 

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Do you spend a fair amount of time on the computer? For me, the small repetitive movements made by working a mouse and keyboard can reek havoc on my hands and forearms. I don't have a problem with the sax unless I've spent too much time typing or clicking/scrolling at the desk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice, I'll try and implement your suggestions - I do feel the extension/flexion is somewhat exaggerated by this horn.

Pontius, I've very recently got a new job where my entire day is spent on a computer 😂 - this can't be helping but my symptoms do predate this job.

Thanks
 

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You might want to invest in one of those ergonomic mice and do anything else you can to make your work movements less awkward. It was definately a trigger for me.
 

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I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrists and now play a 1933 Conn 6M. While the keywork is different than a Chu, I had one of those for a while too at the peak of my CTS symptoms.

The key is what others have posted: manual exercises, reducing ergonomic stress in your day-to-day, posture, and believe it or not, yoga. At my worst point I had to wear a brace for most of the day...now I am mostly symptom free and enjoy vintage horns.

- Saxaholic
 

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if you get a chance try playing a Selmer Mark VII. It was made with larger hands in mind. Hopefully the egonomics will be helpfully to your situation
 
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