Ride technique - under a microscope...

zambizzi

Platinum Member
So, I'm adjusting, re-adjusting, and tweaking the smallest details of my hand technique and am having an issue with the ride, these days.

I had really severe tendonitis for which I'm mostly over now. I take this as an indication that my technique and ability to relax while playing has come a long way, for this I'm very happy (and proud).

However, an issue remains and is a sticking point for me. I've resigned to playing most things on the right side of my kit in French grip. I use it on the ride, when crashing on the right side, and sometimes on the floor tom (but will also use German grip on the floor tom). I can switch between French and German grips to do this, seamlessly and without conscious thought...not a problem.

What *is* a problem is crashing the ride. I've been playing a 21" HHX Groove Ride for about two years. It's thin and wobbly, and is very easy to crash on the edge. I don't have any pain and can do this for long periods of time, if I want. What I DO get, is a strange "shock" sensation in my thumb. I'm not gripping especially hard - I can't, I'd get very sore and would know right away. This "shock" is obviously a nerve issue and I can't help but think that it's the result of absorbing the shock of crashing such a large cymbal, into my hand. I've tried adjusting to German grip, which takes some of the tension off of my thumb, but the same thing happens eventually.

Again, it's not painful, it's just distracting. Does anyone else have this issue? Any tips on how I should be hitting the edge of the ride that might help avoid this? I'm always utilizing the back two fingers in conjunction w/ the fulcrum, which is the thumb and middle finger, for me. I'm always quite relaxed, breathing, etc. I'm at a loss as to what to change to allow me to use the edge of the ride again. When I don't, the "shock" never happens.

Another thing to note - my son whacked me on the upper-arm the other day, right between the tricep and bicep, on the outside - and I felt the same sensation in my hand. I'm wondering if it isn't a shoulder issue? Perhaps I've got some pressure happening in my shoulder that is pinching the nerve that runs down through the arm?

Thanks all!
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
Maybe your thumb gets "shocked" from hitting the ride? When I you use french grip, the thumb is on the top, gets vibrations from the stick and the ride. I dunno, just speculations. Could also be pinched nerves or that your shoulders/back are/is tense. Try to check if you're sitting right(not only behind the drums). Good posture is key.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Hey,

After reading the first half of your post, I was like, "Oh no! Here's ANOTHER case of someone playing French grip and getting an impacted thumb joint/nerve damage..." This is all too common (especially with jazz cats who have played for 20+ years), and I highly recommend drummers I know (and my students) to play German grip as much as possible.

...but, then you said that when your son whacked you on your upper arm between your biceps and triceps and it got the same sensation, it sounds more like Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Your Radial nerve runs through your Thoracic Outlet (the area between your pectoralis major and minor...basically through your armpit), and it runs right through the area you described on your arm. Usually this nerve is pinched in one of 2 locations: at your wrist/carpel bones (carpel tunnel syndrome) or at your thoracic outlet. If it were CTS, the sensation would be more localized and a dull ache.

You may be doing a GREAT job with relaxing your forearms/wrist/hand while playing, but might be "holding" yourself with your upper arm/shoulder girdle. Try to relax your shoulder/pecs while playing and see if that staves off the negative sensation. Also, if the problem persists, you should see a massage therapist that is knowledgeable about the thoracic outlet...

Oh, and for the record, this is all speculation and not meant to be a professional diagnosis. I want to help you out, but not risk my license. :)
 

justjim

Senior Member
I dont really have an answer or a suggestion or anything

but was just wondering what happens if you slightly modify where (on the stick) you hit for the crash - Im just kind of wondering if you are hitting sort of a resonant spot on the stick which may accentuate/focuses the impact (like when you shank off your sweet spot with a tennis racket). I don't mean to imply its the cause or that itd fix anything to move it, but Id just be interested to hear if it changes the feel.

I also kind of wonder if you (as the other guys have pointed to) tightening up - but maybe specifically on the moment of crash (like maybe when you do a posture check you feel loose and relaxed and have good posture, but at that impact moment you tighten up as you strike...that kind of common in some sports)

eh, just a couple things to explore
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Hey,

After reading the first half of your post, I was like, "Oh no! Here's ANOTHER case of someone playing French grip and getting an impacted thumb joint/nerve damage..." This is all too common (especially with jazz cats who have played for 20+ years), and I highly recommend drummers I know (and my students) to play German grip as much as possible.

...but, then you said that when your son whacked you on your upper arm between your biceps and triceps and it got the same sensation, it sounds more like Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Your Radial nerve runs through your Thoracic Outlet (the area between your pectoralis major and minor...basically through your armpit), and it runs right through the area you described on your arm. Usually this nerve is pinched in one of 2 locations: at your wrist/carpel bones (carpel tunnel syndrome) or at your thoracic outlet. If it were CTS, the sensation would be more localized and a dull ache.

You may be doing a GREAT job with relaxing your forearms/wrist/hand while playing, but might be "holding" yourself with your upper arm/shoulder girdle. Try to relax your shoulder/pecs while playing and see if that staves off the negative sensation. Also, if the problem persists, you should see a massage therapist that is knowledgeable about the thoracic outlet...

Oh, and for the record, this is all speculation and not meant to be a professional diagnosis. I want to help you out, but not risk my license. :)
Great info caddy, thanks. Honestly, if I were any more relaxed I'd fall off of my throne and into a deep sleep on the floor. I'm not tensing up anywhere in my upper body (or anywhere else for that matter). While dealing with tendonitis, the first thing I had to learn was how to relieve all tension and breathe properly. I've worked very hard at this (though I did still expect many answers along this line when posting this).

You still recommend German grip, regardless? It's interesting because my teacher told me the same thing when we had this conversation. He told me he rarely uses French for anything and recommended I just go with German for the ride. However, I get the same jolt regardless of grip - and it's always after a period of spanking the ride or riding it on the edge.

You may be onto something w/ the shoulder. I'll do some research on that. As you may know - there's a "middle" bicep muscle between the bicep and tricep. This is where he whacked me, with relatively light force - I felt the zap in my thumb immediately.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Can't you just crash the ride with the German grip and play with the French? P:
Sure, I thought about that before discovering that crashing the ride (as in, riding the edge for that washy, wall-of-sound effect) in German grip caused the same problem.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
Hi zambizzi.

I strongly advise you see a doctor. If the sensation was felt in another area it could be a nerve problem. We aren't qualified to help.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I agree with the 'see a doctor' advice. Can never hurt just to err on the side of caution and get it checked out. Even if it's a flare up of your old tendonitis issue, a doc will identify and treat it accordingly for you.
I seem to remember from one of your posts on another thread, that you put in some long hours on the kit. It may have something to do with it (although I think this would just create some general sorness and muscle fatigue) as opposed to pain being located in a specific region. But get it checked Zambizzi, for peace of mind.

Good luck, hope it's sorted quickly for you.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Hi zambizzi.

I strongly advise you see a doctor. If the sensation was felt in another area it could be a nerve problem. We aren't qualified to help.
Yep, I think that was the inevitable outcome of this thread. Haha! Maybe I just needed someone to say "look stupid, just see a doctor". I think I'll schedule something this week, if I can.
 
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wy yung

Guest
Yep, I think that was the inevitable outcome of this thread. Haha! Maybe I just needed someone to say "look stupid, just see a doctor". I think I'll schedule something this week, if I can.
Good luck mate. I hope it's nothing serious.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Good luck mate. I hope it's nothing serious.
Thanks. I'm hoping it's as simple as tension in the shoulder, like caddy suggested. I moved some stuff around tonight...set the ride lower, move the hats in a little closer. I just had two hours w/o a sign of the issue. Last night I had lightning shooting through my thumb.

It sucks to get old! And I'm not even old! ;)
 
W

wy yung

Guest
Thanks. I'm hoping it's as simple as tension in the shoulder, like caddy suggested. I moved some stuff around tonight...set the ride lower, move the hats in a little closer. I just had two hours w/o a sign of the issue. Last night I had lightning shooting through my thumb.

It sucks to get old! And I'm not even old! ;)
Mate it might be an idea to buy Thomas Kurz's book, Stretching scientifically. There are some great warm ups in it to help keep you loose.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Mate it might be an idea to buy Thomas Kurz's book, Stretching scientifically. There are some great warm ups in it to help keep you loose.
I'll check it out, thank you. I basically stopped stretching altogether while my arms were acting up, last year. It seemed to make matters much worse. I'll check out the book!
 

coasterbeats

Junior Member
I don't get that issue when playing the ride, but when I play the snare for a long time with my left hand, my thumb gets the same uncomfortable feeling - not nec. a pain, but somewhat of a discomfort. I think it's my grip - I may be coming in too over the top...
 

Fiery

Silver Member
I've stopped playing French grip for this reason when I started using bigger stick. Too much shock absorbed by the thumbs.
But I have no problems crashing rides (including a 22" medium heavy) in French grip. Just throw the stick at the cymbal, and stop your arm movement before the impact. Let the stick hit the cymbal and then rebound back into your hand (don't actually let go of the stick at any time of course).
I can't use this same technique for snare and toms because the sticks rebound too hard, transmiting force into the thumbs, but on cymbals it works just fine.
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
An interesting issue - in what position and angle do you have your ride? If you were to have the ride at about 30 degrees and fairly high up, crashing it shouldn't be too much of a shock to the hand as long as you're 'laying' into it using the shoulder of the stick; think of the hand moving forward and in to the cymbal where the whole of the hand leads the stick rather than just the thumb and fingers that are gripping. Having the ride higher up will make life easier as you can aim the shoulder of the stick to strike the outer portion of the cymbal where the crash will break most readily.
That's probably not massively clear, but keep in mind that a ride is a big and heavy cymbal so making it crash is going to require greater force and therefore a more solid grip - all fingers around the stick and the hand moves forward and in to the cymbal.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I've stopped playing French grip for this reason when I started using bigger stick. Too much shock absorbed by the thumbs.
But I have no problems crashing rides (including a 22" medium heavy) in French grip. Just throw the stick at the cymbal, and stop your arm movement before the impact. Let the stick hit the cymbal and then rebound back into your hand (don't actually let go of the stick at any time of course).
I can't use this same technique for snare and toms because the sticks rebound too hard, transmiting force into the thumbs, but on cymbals it works just fine.
Interesting you should mention that...this problem seemed to arise when I started using a fatter stick, though now it seems to happen regardless of what stick I'm using. Maybe it's just a coincidence.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
An interesting issue - in what position and angle do you have your ride? If you were to have the ride at about 30 degrees and fairly high up, crashing it shouldn't be too much of a shock to the hand as long as you're 'laying' into it using the shoulder of the stick; think of the hand moving forward and in to the cymbal where the whole of the hand leads the stick rather than just the thumb and fingers that are gripping. Having the ride higher up will make life easier as you can aim the shoulder of the stick to strike the outer portion of the cymbal where the crash will break most readily.
That's probably not massively clear, but keep in mind that a ride is a big and heavy cymbal so making it crash is going to require greater force and therefore a more solid grip - all fingers around the stick and the hand moves forward and in to the cymbal.
As I got to crashing the ride more, I did raise it up so hitting the edge would be effortless. It might have been tiled *slightly* toward me, but not much. It was essentially flat. The edge of the ride might have been 2-3" higher than my elbow, when sitting at the kit. I tried to get it an angle that was comfortable for riding normally, with the tip...or crashing on the edge in French grip.

A few nights ago, right around the time I posted this, I lowered it significantly. Now it sits where I really can't crash it but my arm makes a perfect "L", so riding it w/ the tip of the stick is absolutely relaxed.

I haven't had that sensation since then, either! Caddy might have been onto something w/ shoulder tension. Could it have been so slight that I wouldn't have even noticed it? I always felt relaxed, crashing the edge of the ride, how I was sitting, etc. I never felt any pain or strain while doing it. BUT...it always seemed to happen as a result of doing it.

I also moved my 12" up a bit and tilted it a bit more, so it would take less effort to reach. I moved my hats in toward me about 3", tilted all of my cymbals a bit more. All of this might be helping...but none of it was particularly uncomfortable before.
 

denisri

Silver Member
For any high volume ride work(ie: crash riding!) I go to german grip....from french....let the wrist be the shock absorbers with arm strokes.
Eases the impact on the thumbs....Denis
 
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