Common Drumming Injuries – Cause and Cures

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On reflecting on my past drumming career and experience. I consider myself to be lucky with drumming ailments. In most cases, I avoided injuries that could have had negative effects on my drumming.

Having said that, I have also had my fair share of injuries but in comparison to others, I have been very lucky. I have suffered from the most common injuries a drummer can endure. Such as blisters, tingling hands, knee pains, hand and wrist cramps to name a few. I even recall playing a gig with one arm due to the other being in a sling and unusable. But still, I have been very lucky.

Yet, there is only one “cause” that needs to be taken care of. To at least reduce all other possible common drumming injuries. By that, I am referring to ignorance. And I will explain as we go. And remember, I am speaking from personal experience only. And am in no way imparting medical advice. If you are suffering from an injury caused by drumming or otherwise. Please consult a qualified doctor or medical professional.

Common Drumming Injuries

Drumming is a physically demanding activity. And as a result, minor injuries are common among drummers.

The most common drumming injury is tendinitis. It’s caused by the repetitive motion of striking the drums. This can lead to inflammation and pain in the joints, muscles, and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another common condition among drummers. It’s caused by the compression of the median nerve. This can lead to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hands and wrists. Drummers can also suffer from hearing problems. Due to the often loud noise generated by the instruments around them.

First though, to reduce the risk of injury, it is important to not underestimate the need to warm up. As a drummer, you should always warm up before playing and take breaks as needed. Anyone who experiences pain or other symptoms of an injury should of course consult a doctor. Or another medical professional as suggested already.

Drummers Knee Pain

Drummers are susceptible to a condition known as “drummer’s knee.” It’s caused by the repetitive motion of the foot striking the pedal. Which in turn puts stress on the patella (knee bone). Symptoms include pain and inflammation in the knee. As well as weakness and instability.

Drummers who experience drummer’s knee pain may find it difficult to play. They may even have to take a break from playing altogether. There are several treatment options available, including rest, ice, and physical therapy. In some extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.

But, with proper treatment and rehabilitation. Most drummers will be able to return to playing without pain.

In the past, I have only experienced this for a brief time and it didn’t last long. And so I can only presume that it wasn’t too serious in my case.

On taking my anatomy and physiology diploma some time ago. I recall the fluids or natural lubricant (synovial fluid) in the knee. May not be enough to keep the machinery of your knees and other joints in your body well lubricated. And thus working efficiently.

Synovial Fluid

“Synovial fluid is a thick, straw-colored substance that lubricates your joints. Like the oil in your car reduces friction in your engine. This synovial fluid minimizes friction in your joints. It helps your bones glide past each other when you bend, extend, and rotate”.

To aid the process of insufficient synovial fluid in the joints. I recommend a high-quality Fermented Cod Liver Oil Capsule daily. The regular $2 for 360 capsules option just isn’t good enough, although they can help. This solution will also end other joint problems as your joints become overused. At least to some degree. Fermented Cod Liver Oil Capsules are much stronger than the standard cod liver oil. The ones you pay $2 for a years supply for. In short, look after your joints and they will look after you.

I am not proposing medical advice here. So use your discretion and consult a medical professional for more specific advice. Fermented Cod Liver Oil Capsules are quite expensive but I believe the cost to be worth the expense.

Drumming Blisters

Playing the drums can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to take care of your hands to avoid blisters. In my experience, blisters occur for a single reason. You are holding the stick too tight. I used to get them often when I was around 17 years old. I was playing in a band that required me to push the music and play, quite loud.

The combination of having to play loud and sweat due to warm lights forced me to grip the sticks too tight. Having said that, my technique wasn’t great at that time. It was more about hard work rather than playing the drums, it was a thrashing game. But like I say, I was still quite young and inexperienced.

Excluding my own experience, the common solutions to blisters go something like this:

  • Wear gloves when you play. This will help protect your skin from the friction of the drumsticks.
  • Use a drum practice pad to warm up.
  • Take breaks. If you feel a hotspot developing on your skin, take a break and give your hands a rest.
  • Do not Pop blisters. Popping blisters can lead to infection. Instead, let them heal on their own or cover them with Band-Aids.

By following these tips, you can avoid painful blisters and keep on playing the drums!

Well, I don’t want to come across as being a know-it-all as we are all very different. With different perspectives and requirements. But all those tips excluding the warm-up tip are attempts to work on the effect, the blister. The focus is to somehow cure the blister after it shows itself.

I prefer to work on the cause. And in my experience, the cause of blisters is holding the sticks too tight. Loosen your grip and learn to play loose.

You can then hit hard by playing the drum loud rather than hitting the drum loud. Hitting requires grip, playing requires being loose.

A drum cannot exceed a specific decibel level so why bother trying to hit it harder than required? Play it loud as opposed to hitting it loud. And in most cases, the blisters will seize.

As I mentioned earlier, I had blisters often when I was 17 years old. At the time I used 2B sticks, I switched to 5A sticks (a much lighter stick). And from that point, my playing was much more dynamic and powerful.

Drummer Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the most persistent ailment I suffered as a drummer. But, having said that, I never saw this as an ailment as most seem to do. Drummer tinnitus is a condition that’s caused by exposure to loud noise. It is characterized by a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. And it can be very frustrating and even debilitating. While there is no cure for drummer tinnitus. There are treatments that can help to reduce the symptoms.

In some cases, hearing aids may be recommended to help make the ringing sound less noticeable. Counseling and relaxation techniques may also be helpful. Tinnitus can be stressful so dealing with the effects of tinnitus can help. If you are a drummer who is experiencing tinnitus, it is important to seek treatment. So that you can continue to enjoy your passion for music.

Well, that’s what the experts say, and I wouldn’t argue with them, as they know better than I do. Having said that, when I returned home from a gig. I would sit in my room just before bed and relax listening to the high-toned buzz that my ears were singing. After half an hour or so, the ringing would stop and I could get to sleep. But you are not me. So if you suffer from tinnitus then see a professional medical practitioner.

When I reflect on the time that I suffered from this ailment, It was the same time I had those darn blisters. And so I view it as playing too loud. As I thrashed at the drums, the guitar also thrashed in my ears (I could hardly ever hear the bass guitar, as I wanted to). The guitar was always too darn close to me and too loud, then there were the drums. They too were too close and being hit (by myself) too loud. Instead of being played.

As I thrashed away my body was being drained of energy and at the same time, the ringing was preparing itself. As I said, half an hour of relaxing after the gig put an end to it. And after those formative years. I never suffered from ringing in the ears again throughout my 40-year career. I blame the volume, not the noise. Noise can be controlled, volume is just… to coin a phrase from the movie Back To The future, “it’s just too darn loud”.

Drummer Tingling in the Hands

A common complaint among drummers is tingling in the hands. This is typically caused by poor blood circulation and can be quite painful. Drumming requires a lot of repetitive motion. Which can then lead to inflammation and swelling of the joints. Also, the vibrations from the sticks can cause the hands to go numb or tingle.

To help relieve the tingling in the hands. It is important to take breaks often and to stretch before and after playing. Ice can also be applied to the affected area to reduce swelling. If the pain is severe, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can be taken. But, if the problem persists, it is important to see a doctor as it may be indicative of a more serious condition.

Around the same time as I was suffering from blisters and tinnitus. I was also suffering with my fingers, they kept looking and feeling lifeless and cold. My father was a miner and he often spoke of white fingers. The white finger (in his case) was due to the miner’s hands gripping pneumatic drills all day down the pits. This vibration gave them white fingers. Damaged capillaries (veins) in the hands.

In my case, I used to get what I call “white fingers” when the weather was cold. And rather than looking at this symptom being a disease of some kind, I found a practical solution. I viewed it as something not caused by vibration from the drumsticks. And instead viewed it as just bad blood circulation.

I started taking cod liver oil as well as multivitamins with added iron. And the white finger disappeared and never returned. An improved diet also helped.

So, from this, I suppose it’s all about perspective. See a symptom and you are in disharmony, seek a solution and one will appear. As I said, you are different from me and may have different issues. So please, for your own good, see a doctor if you think you need to.

Do The Common Drumming Injuries Really Exist?

Looking at the evidence of my own drumming career. Common drumming injuries just don’t exist. IF, you take the precautions such as a good health and wellness routine. Coupled with the right vitamins and supplement plan for you. But it would depend on your perspective. I don’t believe they exist as I would sooner find a solution as I suggested. That doesn’t necessarily mean that an injury doesn’t exist. It means I choose to focus on possible causes and cures for injuries. And then take the precautionary solution route. It is only a matter of perspective.

Arthritis and Drumming Cramps

For many years I had one quite debilitating (to a lesser degree than normal) drumming injury. apart from tinnitus. That was cramps in the balls of my thumbs. I used to visit the gym often and believed this to be muscle cramps due to drumming. Because it occurred almost every time I played. I used to believe it was holding the sticks too tight that caused the crams. But they never went away even after I had learned to play loose.

No matter how loosely you play, you still have to make an effort. And it was this effort that resulted in muscle cramps. They were quite chronic. But because they occurred whilst I was on stage or in the orchestra pit, I had no choice but to press on.

Later I discovered that the cramps were arthritis. I haven’t had this diagnosed but I still get the cramps today. And I hardly ever pick up a pair of sticks anymore and so believe that it is arthritis. And I developed it rather early on in my drumming. Most likely due to the hard-gripping thrasher, I started out with.

So whenever you have any joint pains or symptoms of any kind that make drumming difficult. Go see a professional who can diagnose you sooner rather than later. And then provide a solution that will keep you where you belong. Behind the drum set.

I hope this article has been of some value to you. Even if it only inspires you to visit your doctor to find a much-needed solution. For a pressing drumming issue or injury, that you may be putting up with.

Do you suffer from any drumming-related injury? I’d like to hear about it here, so add a comment below and share your experience and wisdom.

The Drum Coach

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