Returning to drumming - weak right ankle!

ErnestCobbey

New member
Hi, I'm looking for some advice. Almost 15 years ago I seriously sprained my ankle (foot dislocated itself at 90 degrees sideways and ankle hit the floor hard whilst leg was still upright!), then not so long after that we started a family and drumming got pushed to the side a bit (a lot). Anyway my 10yr old daughter has started to play the drums and it's got me itching to get back in to it, the trouble is even after 15 years of exercising and trying to get strength back in to my right ankle there is just none there and I literally can only play the bass drum for a few minutes before the pain becomes too much. Playing heal-up helps a bit but it's just so frustrating! One thing I was considering doing was getting a double bass pedal and learning to play left-foot bass drum instead, although this would restrict my hi-hat style. Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas?
 
Between hockey and soccer (and being a drunk idiot at other times) - I have fractured and sprained my ankles so many times over the course of my life that I've literally lost track of how many times its been. That said, I'm no spring chicken anymore either so sometimes I wonder to myself are my ankles slower now because of my age, because I've lost the flexibility due to injury (and the many rods and screws don't help), or because I don't practice as much as I could when I was young? Or is it some combination of the three? With that said, part of me knows that I never had tremendous pedal speed using my right ankle (I'm left-footed) to begin with--although I was once more fluid than I am now. Now when I go fast I feel immediate pain.

So while I don't have a good answer for you I will say that practicing deliberately for flexibility will better serve you than lifting weights or doing something direct for the purposes of strength building. As you achieve increased flexibility the strength will come but no additional scarring or tissue buildup--which is the last thing you want.

Anyway, hope that helps a little and I will be watching this thread as its a great question/scenario you pose.
 

ErnestCobbey

New member
Between hockey and soccer.......
Thanks for the response, unfortunately for me the problem is almost more the stamina of the ankle than the speed/flexibility. I've been trying to build it up with walking/cycling etc. and many trips to the physiotherapist (and subsequent different stretches/exercises) over the years. The strength is mainly back, I no longer have a weak ankle (as in one that would give way underneath me), and I can walk for miles on it with little more than the constant dull perpetual pain I've suffered with for 15 years!

Now when it comes to drumming I start fine but after about 5 minutes or so (of even the most basic playing) the pain/heat in my ankle is excruciating (I get similar pain after hours of driving). I've been unable to find a technique or exercises that help the situation and am just hoping that someone out there might be able to suggest an approach that can help me get back in to it!
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Well, sounds like you've incurred a lot of damage in there. Wrap it, switch to lefty, practice you're butt off. Physical problems suck when it comes to drumming. I have major back/neck problems, probably having surgery done relatively soon. I understand what you're going through.
Do anti-inflammatories help?

I said wrap it above. Do braces help at all?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Do anti-inflammatories help?

I said wrap it above. Do braces help at all?
Agreed, braces and anti-inflammatory meds are your friends here. If you're able to walk, run, and jump, you should be able to build up the necessary strength and endurance for drumming. But it can easily take many months. It's an athletic skill, even for those without prior injury. All my students complain that their legs, shins, and hips "burn" or "get tired".

Playing heal-up helps a bit but it's just so frustrating!
Most music that is played with electric bass and guitar, is played heel-up. Heel-down technique is good for quiet passages, and acoustic music, but it won't produce the volume you need, or the appropriate sound, to balance yourself when playing alongside guitar and bass amps, and a vocal PA system. Eventually, you should learn both techniques, but at the beginning, most of your playing will be heel up, if you're learning rock music.

Your seat height and posture matter, too. Heel-up technique is a bit easier, if your seat height is raised until your thighs angle downward slightly.

And yes, try this exercise:

Play constant bass drum notes, in unison with constant right hand notes on a snare pad, at a rate of 250 per minute, with a metronome. Use heel up technique, sit up straight, and keep everything as relaxed as possible. Your leg and hip will move a little. Play medium-volume notes (not too quiet, not too loud). DO NOT STOP FOR TWO MINUTES STRAIGHT. If you're struggling with this, slow the tempo down until you can play even notes, for the whole two minutes without stopping. Repeat the exercise, using your left hand in unison with the bass drum. Repeat these exercises every day, increasing the tempo a little at a time, as your endurance builds.
 

ErnestCobbey

New member
Do anti-inflammatories help?

I said wrap it above. Do braces help at all?
Supports/straps don't seem to help much, they used to when my ankle was weaker but not so much now I've built the strength back up a bit. Anti-inflammatory meds do seem to help a little, but I'm not sure I like the idea of living on them.

I do generally play heal up, I just tried heal down for a bit to see as it puts different stresses on the muscles/joints.

And yes, try this exercise:
I'll give it a go, thanks, maybe I'll try dosing up on anti-inflammatories and seeing if I can build it up that way for a short while and then see what happens when I don't take them.
 

cornelius

Silver Member
I'd suggest putting some time into playing heel down, along with heel up. Playing heel down will help strengthen and gain coordination in your lower leg, and ultimately help your heel up playing.

Like Brenton, I really like playing unison exercises with hands and feet. For heel down exercises I'd suggest the following:
• Let the beater come off of the head, as this will really help with strengthening. Also, not burying the beater will allow you to relax more, and not transmit so much shock to your leg from the drum head. You're playing the drum, vs hitting it.
• Start really slowly - set a metronome to 60 BPM and play quarter notes. Try some unisons - Right hand/Bass drum, Left hand/Bass drum then L hand/R hand/Bass drum.
• Stay relaxed and move up the tempo when you feel comfortable.
 
Top