Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Eliminating Banjo/Guitar Tendonitis; My rapid road to recovery:

For about the last 7 or 8 years, I’ve suffered with an increasing amount of tendonitis in my picking arm and tendons & muscles in my forearm. I’d like to offer some information to fellow pickers who struggle with “Picking tendonitis” or problems associated with discomfort or muscle-pain during practice and what I did that eliminated it almost overnight.
My problem with tendonitis/muscle pain and stiffness gradually increased with an increase in practice-time. At times over the past few years, I was filled with nightmares that I might have to curtail or even quit picking. Then, I happened across these two short videos that really had an amazing impact in removing all traces of my soreness. In short, I can now practice as long as I want without any discomfort at all.
While most banjo or guitar players don’t consider themselves “athletes”, to your fingers, hands and arms, picking is most certainly an athletic event! Initially, I was very skeptical of the stretching exercises and relaxation techniques until I began to actually do them. To be honest, the opening and closing of my right hand while finding and squeezing my sore forearm muscles & tendons with my left-hand to remove the Tendinitis was very painful at first and gave a burning sensation, but within a day, I could feel my tendons and muscles releasing and pain-free movement of my picking hand was restored in short order. What I can tell you is this: I now treat my hands and arms like the athletes they are and begin every practice session and warm-up with a routine of finger tendon stretching and forearm muscle relaxation techniques. After suffering with discomfort for so long, praise God I’ve been practicing about 4X more than ever with no discomfort for the last year. I begin and end each practice session with these stretches and my hands and arms love it. Happy picking!

Removing Banjo/Guitar tendonitis:



Wow! This sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to get home and watch these videos.


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It’s really loosened-up my fingers Mark and also helped out speed and accuracy. I do a fair amount of data processing at work and used to get a sore thumb (spacebar), but no longer a problem. Happy Picking!

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Thanks for sharing this info. I’m gonna try it out. Not that I’m in pain now but some stiffness occurs.

Will be checking those vids out as soon as I can. I have and periodically suffer with stiff fingers and a cramping in my upper arm. I found the best cure for me, was to keep practising but make sure my whole body was relaxed down to my fingers.

Lately I’ve been practicing so much I find that it’s my left arm, especially around the shoulder, that starts hurting from keeping it raised so long.

Anyone else experience that?

Perfect timing posting the videos! Many thanks. There are days I have trouble holding a pick. I think the techniques discussed will help. Oh to be young again…

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@Mark_Rocka, that’s exactly why I usually play in a chair with arms

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Same here, but for me, I’m pretty sure it’s because of the weight of the banjo and the strap kind of digging in.

I tried raising the arm on my chair (it’s an office chair) which helped the pain, but it limited my range of motion. Music hurts. :laughing:

That’s a good point. I’ll have to practice without the strap on my shoulder and see if anything changes.

Having done hard physical labor most all my life (concrete, roofing, tree climbing) I’m a big advocate of stretching things out…it can be a great tool in prevention of injury, and to assisting with relaxation.

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Mark, Have you tried adjusting the strap so it lifts the neck more into a 2 o clock position, so your not supporting the neck? I used to get this myself.

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Yeah, I think I remembered you posting about that before, so I double checked that. My left hand doesn’t support the neck at all. You lose left hand speed when it has to hold the neck up, so I’m really careful.

I’m hoping it’s just a combination of me practicing so long at a sitting and just being out of shape / getting old. I seriously need to get back in the gym.

Is it shoulder or arm or both? Sometimes you can relieve the tension by laying over something and allowing your arm to dangle loose and swing your arm in a loose circle motion. About 5 years back, I suffered what is called ‘frozen shoulder’ this was before I took up the banjo. I could hardly lift my arm and had to do this kind of exercise to help release tension.
Hope you can find a remedy soon. :+1:

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I think too, that changing positions helps. It may sound funny, but I practice standing up, sitting down and even reclining on my lazy-boy with my feet up. Probably an Instructor would scold me for occasional “bad posture”, but hey; when you practice about 4-hours / day on the weekends and about an hour everyday after work, it’s nice to be comfortable. Great idea about getting back into the Gym Mark_Rocka, but would they let me play my Banjo on the threadmill ? haha! :joy:

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LOL! I might get the lunk alarm for that. (If you don’t know what that means, look up Planet Fitness lunk alarm. :wink: )


Lunk Alarm…Haha! Great idea for a Banjo Ben Commercial :wink:


Thanks. This is valuable information. Great tools to push back the hand pain gremlins. I will be working this into my routine.