Right hand thumb wearing out.

ludakot

Member
Hey everyone. I've been having problems with my right hand at the base of the thumb becoming numb and tired making it increasingly difficult to play. I play german grip and I also play fairly hard, although not as hard as a lot of rock drummers. I only started to notice it when playing on stage, probably due to the fact that I'm playing harder and for longer. I find that my hand starts becoming weak and I have to grip tighter just to hold onto the stick.

It's a horrible feeling when you can't even fill for fear of making mistakes or dropping a stick because your hand is so tired! It seems to be the hi-hat that's causing the problem mainly, the constant motion of keeping those 8ths going is what makes my hand tired a lot of the time. I keep my grip fairly loose so I'm not sure if a tight grip is the cause. I also feel a slight pain if I apply a fair amount of pressure to the thumb which I don't feel on the other hand, Slightly worrying!

I understand it's fairly difficult to help me without seeing what I'm doing but has anyone ever had similar problems of tired fingers or thumbs and if so what was the problem? Thanks.
 

Zickos

Gold Member
I was going to say something crass like "you can probably pick up a spare one from Guitar Center" but that can be some pretty serious stuff. My first inclination, if it is really giving you that much trouble and you love drumming as most of us do, that you consult an orthopedist and show him exactly what you do. Might be expensive but, after all, the top three things to maintain life are breathing, eating and drumming and not necessarily in that order.
 

eric_B

Senior Member
Hey everyone. I've been having problems with my right hand at the base of the thumb becoming numb and tired making it increasingly difficult to play...It's a horrible feeling when you can't even fill for fear of making mistakes or dropping a stick because your hand is so tired! It seems to be the hi-hat that's causing the problem mainly, the constant motion of keeping those 8ths going is what makes my hand tired a lot of the time...
I'm no expert by no means and leave proper advice to the others but I know exactly what you mean. I started 4 years ago and joined a band 2 years later. We play several songs which are over 150 BPM and some are over 6 minutes. My hihat hand also cramped up several times, feeling like my grip was gone and the stick would go flying in the air any second. Like you said, a horrible feeling, especially during a gig.

My problem was technique: I just used my wrist and let the stick fly up in the air too much. Keeping the stick lower and working on using a moeller motion helped me a lot.

I have no idea about your drumming experience so take this with the proper intention, but maybe you can have a good teacher check your playing?
 

ludakot

Member
I'm no expert by no means and leave proper advice to the others but I know exactly what you mean. I started 4 years ago and joined a band 2 years later. We play several songs which are over 150 BPM and some are over 6 minutes. My hihat hand also cramped up several times, feeling like my grip was gone and the stick would go flying in the air any second. Like you said, a horrible feeling, especially during a gig.

My problem was technique: I just used my wrist and let the stick fly up in the air too much. Keeping the stick lower and working on using a moeller motion helped me a lot.

I have no idea about your drumming experience so take this with the proper intention, but maybe you can have a good teacher check your playing?
I took you up on your advice and I'm going to see a teacher tomorrow! Not sure if he's any good or not but I hope he can help me. I already use the moeller motion but maybe it needs some work.

I've noticed that when I try to play powerful snare hits with my right hand it's not as powerful as my left and feels strange, it also rebounds in a weird way, the stick travels left when it comes back up instead of coming up straight. However when I examine my grip it looks identical to my left hand. :(
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Don't get too hung up on this-grip-or-that-grip, or all of those tedious details that will come naturally, once you learn how to relax and start developing your reflexes.

Sit up straight, breathe, and relax. Someone here said, "hold the sticks as if you're holding a live bird in your hands - enough to hang onto it and not let it fly away, but not so much that you'd hurt it." Best grip advice I've ever heard.

I asked my most recent drum teacher about grips, what my former teacher had told me, etc. He quickly stopped me and said, "Man...he just ran out of things to teach you." Haha! His advice was; make it *sound* like what I'm showing you...relax and let the rest fall into place.

Everybody is different...you have to discover what works for you. We all have to learn to keep a loose enough grip to prevent serious fatigue and/or injury, however.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Crossing your arms to play is inherently difficult. Do you notice these problems when you play hats? I'll bet you have your hats fairly high but I could be wrong.

Two ideas: put the ride to your right, or learn to play left hand hats and ride. Relearning new hand roles would be pretty hard, but it reminds me of that violinist who burned out his left hand fingering too much and too fast, so he switched hands and taught his left hand to finger the fretboard and his impaired right hand to move the bow. The violin is one of the most difficult instruments to play so if someone could do this, surely you could relearn hand roles for a drum set.

But it would be easier just to put your hats on the right and play open and lower. I'll bet that would take care of a lot of it.
 

ludakot

Member
Don't get too hung up on this-grip-or-that-grip, or all of those tedious details that will come naturally, once you learn how to relax and start developing your reflexes.

Sit up straight, breathe, and relax. Someone here said, "hold the sticks as if you're holding a live bird in your hands - enough to hang onto it and not let it fly away, but not so much that you'd hurt it." Best grip advice I've ever heard.

I asked my most recent drum teacher about grips, what my former teacher had told me, etc. He quickly stopped me and said, "Man...he just ran out of things to teach you." Haha! His advice was; make it *sound* like what I'm showing you...relax and let the rest fall into place.

Everybody is different...you have to discover what works for you. We all have to learn to keep a loose enough grip to prevent serious fatigue and/or injury, however.
I've never heard the saying about the bird before. I'll have to think about that when I'm playing, thanks.

Crossing your arms to play is inherently difficult. Do you notice these problems when you play hats? I'll bet you have your hats fairly high but I could be wrong.

Two ideas: put the ride to your right, or learn to play left hand hats and ride. Relearning new hand roles would be pretty hard, but it reminds me of that violinist who burned out his left hand fingering too much and too fast, so he switched hands and taught his left hand to finger the fretboard and his impaired right hand to move the bow. The violin is one of the most difficult instruments to play so if someone could do this, surely you could relearn hand roles for a drum set.

But it would be easier just to put your hats on the right and play open and lower. I'll bet that would take care of a lot of it.
I do have the hats quite high! If I lower them anymore then I seem to hit the top of the hats and struggle to get my left arm as high without hitting sticks, maybe I just need time to adjust. I'm not sure I'd call them abnormally high though. I've seen plenty of drummers with much higher hats, but maybe that just works for them.

I'm in a high energy covers band with a lot of showmanship and loud drums is part of that, yet there are so many drummers who can play harder and get there sticks twice as high as mine. I'd say I don't even play that hard to be honest. It feels like I am but when I watch videos I'm not doing as much as I thought!

Learning to play open handed or moving the hats would be a last resort for me. Although I'm not sure what else to try haha.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I've never heard the saying about the bird before. I'll have to think about that when I'm playing, thanks.



I do have the hats quite high! If I lower them anymore then I seem to hit the top of the hats and struggle to get my left arm as high without hitting sticks, maybe I just need time to adjust. I'm not sure I'd call them abnormally high though. I've seen plenty of drummers with much higher hats, but maybe that just works for them.

I'm in a high energy covers band with a lot of showmanship and loud drums is part of that, yet there are so many drummers who can play harder and get there sticks twice as high as mine. I'd say I don't even play that hard to be honest. It feels like I am but when I watch videos I'm not doing as much as I thought!

Learning to play open handed or moving the hats would be a last resort for me. Although I'm not sure what else to try haha.
I would invest in a remote hat and put it on your right, near the ride cymbal. That would cause minimum disruption to your playing. It is possible to permanently screw up your thumb joint with repetitive stress injuries and affect your whole life so I would seriously consider changing something fundamental.
 

JohnW

Silver Member
A good teacher is the first order of business. Now if it's some underlying, serious problem then you should see some hand specialist. But it sounds like you just need to lighten up. We have a saying in our corp, "Big Sticks- Soft Hands". Easier said than done, I know :)

Just think of this: Your right thumb is just one side of your fulcrum or pivot point. (Your index/middle finger is on the other side). So as the stick rotates about that point, no matter how fast, there should be little or no force in the direction of your thumb. It's an axis or axle and all of the force should be concentrated at the tip of the stick, not at the axis. But if you squeeze the stick or "white knuckle" it, all you're doing is adding friction around that point, which slows the stick down and mutes the natural resonance of the stick which will be amplified when it strikes the drum. So you strike harder each successive time to get more sound and adjust your technique so the stick won't slip. You squeeze the stick harder during this adjustment, which makes the sound slightly weaker. So you strike the drum harder and adjust further and it becomes this negative feedback/reinforcement. Eventually you bring the sound up to an adequate level, but it's still not as full as it could be. And you've got all of this tension concentrated at your thumb and forefinger (and likely your forearm and bicep). In short, it's like driving with the emergency brake on. This is just explaining the symptom to you. You could probably work out some of it on your own, but it will be vastly more effective to work it out with the guidance of a teacher.

There are some great teachers on this board who offer Skype lessons. Bill Bachman and Jeff Johnson come to mind. If you can find someone comparable in person; that would be ideal. Either way, it's money well spent.

-John
 

ludakot

Member
So I went to a see a teacher today! He told me that although my grip looks fundamentally fine my hi-hat technique isn't really correct. I'm doing the moeller motion but I don't really have the technique, there's no upstroke.

He advised me to hit the top of the hats on the upstroke to get the rebound. I was also told that my right hand does a weird rotating motion halfway in-between german and french. So a lot the time when I'm playing hard and my hand gets a little tired I start doing a half french grip with the stick bouncing back in weird directions which puts a lot of pressure on the thumb.

I already somewhat noticed this before, I was told to slow it down and start again but I've already tried this in the past and no matter how slow I go it doesn't seem to want to do the correct motion! Also when I try to use just my fingers and take out the wrist side of things the stick moves down towards the head in an angular motion like my fingers are doing the movements for french grip even though I'm trying to play german.

He seemed to know what he was talking about, does everyone feel this is solid advice? Thanks.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
So I went to a see a teacher today! He told me that although my grip looks fundamentally fine my hi-hat technique isn't really correct. I'm doing the moeller motion but I don't really have the technique, there's no upstroke.

He advised me to hit the top of the hats on the upstroke to get the rebound. I was also told that my right hand does a weird rotating motion halfway in-between german and french. So a lot the time when I'm playing hard and my hand gets a little tired I start doing a half french grip with the stick bouncing back in weird directions which puts a lot of pressure on the thumb.

I already somewhat noticed this before, I was told to slow it down and start again but I've already tried this in the past and no matter how slow I go it doesn't seem to want to do the correct motion! Also when I try to use just my fingers and take out the wrist side of things the stick moves down towards the head in an angular motion like my fingers are doing the movements for french grip even though I'm trying to play german.

He seemed to know what he was talking about, does everyone feel this is solid advice? Thanks.
Sounds like he knows his stuff. I would start applying it right away.
 

sbowman128675

Senior Member
I feel the pain as well man. But its because I have doubble jonited thumbs and sweaty hands. Sweaty hands alone can make it hard due to sticks slipping. What I did was take the time to examine were my hands and arms and legs naturally want to go when i place them and then set up my kit around that natural poistion, took out alot of the pains, expecially in the forearms.
 

ludakot

Member
Sounds like he knows his stuff. I would start applying it right away.
Thanks man.


I feel the pain as well man. But its because I have doubble jonited thumbs and sweaty hands. Sweaty hands alone can make it hard due to sticks slipping. What I did was take the time to examine were my hands and arms and legs naturally want to go when i place them and then set up my kit around that natural poistion, took out alot of the pains, expecially in the forearms.
Sounds like a good idea but I'm not quite sure to what you mean, do you mean you pretended to play and then placed stuff where your arms were going?
 

Fat Elvis

Pioneer Member
mine can get worn out -- i gig 3-4 sets. I find that surfboard wax on the sticks will allow me to have a loser grip. Also, pacing yourself if really important. And technique, of course. You can also try different sticks. I switch sticks sometimes for different songs and dynamics, and i can feel that each will have a different feel in my hand.
 

Silverfox

Member
I agree that you should loosen your grip. Tightening it when your thumb starts to hurt will only make the problem worse. You may be afraid that you'll drop the sticks because you aren't used to a more loose grip, so just practice playing this way and eventually you'll develop enough control that you won't have to worry about it.
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
What kind of sticks do you use? When I played with 7As, I got periodical cramps in the bases of my thumbs if I had to play loud for a longer period of time. Switching to beefier sticks (Vic Firth SD2) remedied the problem... but that alone won't help if your problems stem from a technical issue. Mine was simply a case of wrong sticks for the job.
 
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