Neck pain (and stretches?)

Hi!

I’ve been taking Josh’s lessons for the past couple of months and keep developing a kinked neck on the left side. I’m looking for stretches that might help.

I bought a “posture wedge” on Amazon that helps somewhat but only if I haven’t been playing too much. Lately, with a lot more time on my hands, I’ve been playing more than usual and the kink has been getting worse.

I know it’s because my head mostly turned left and bent down, looking at the frets. And I’m not good enough (yet) not to look down at my fretting fingers.

Ideas?

Thanks for any helpful ideas you can throw my way,

Erica

1 Like

I would think some general neck stretches would do fine. Things like neck rolls. I think the key is frequency of stretches. Do some good stretching before you start and more in between each lesson (or every 10 min or so). If it hurts too much, then rest for a bit. Listen to your body.

You can also try to mix in things you don’t need to look at the fretboard as much for, like open string work, or repeating scales.

I’m no expert on this stuff though, but that’s what I’d do.

3 Likes

So, I assume you are sitting!?

The cause for your pain in the neck (literally, not figuratively) might come from somewhere else entirely. You already tried the posture wedge… you could also try one of those little foot rests for guitarists that raise the position of one foot and thereby raise the position of the bass (just use a little box before you buy the real thing). You could also look at how your strap is set up… or try to play without a strap for a while, if only to test it out.

In general, something that @Gio might be aware of: what about your breathing when you play?? Pay much more attention to your breathing… are you tense and breathing only shallowly? Do you almost forget to breathe? Etc. And in this context, check whether you sit completely still (almost stiff) or whether you move/rock around while playing? The latter could potentially also help in releasing tension in your body, and thus in your neck!?!

Just a few thoughts! :smile:

4 Likes

Maybe work on that.
I’m absentmindedly playing Billie Jean while reading the forum
On a fretless.
It’s not perfect, but I keep practicing.

2 Likes

Wow, my two Achilles heels, @peterhuppertz . Not looking at fingers and Billie Jean! You’re a rock star!

I have lots to work on. Gotta keep practising.

1 Like

Thanks for your advice, @joergkutter .

I have already started using a small stool to raise my left foot. I wonder if that’s not part of the problem because maybe it’s allowing me to see the fret board more and I therefore rely on it more?

I’m guessing that if you are suggesting to remove the strap, you’re thinking I’m sitting?

I actually play standing.

Are most people sitting or is it because I have neck pain that people think my neck is sore?

I’ll have. to pay attention to my breathing. I think it depends on the song and the level of difficulty. But I’ll have to actually pay attention. It would not surprise me to discover I am breathing. very shallowly or holding my breath. I’ve caught my tongue sticking out soooo…

But I totally sway when I’m playing!

1 Like

Thanks, @JT !

Certainly, frequency makes sense and not something I’ve been doing faithfully enough (except for the posture wedge). I’ll start stretching before I play, too. And take breaks to stretch.

2 Likes

Yes, I thought you were sitting, @ericabulman! But, it appears I was wrong :smile:

But, then, you are using a stool to raise your left foot while standing (and you are plucking with your right hand)??

Hm, yeah, sounds a bit unorthodox… you might want to check out this thread also:


Maybe there are a few more pointers there (even though it is more of a “poll”).

1 Like

Seeing as to how I would like to be capable of playing jazz, that leaves me with a lot to work on. But I knew that. :wink:

But seriously… I have no idea anymore how much time I’ve spent on Billie Jean. I’ve returned to it hundreds of times.
And the same holds true for playing without looking at the fret board. I often sit behind my screen browsing this forum, or looking at other stuff, while playing bass.
Which brings me to another point:
I can now play sitting and standing equally well (which is not very good, but at least it’s consistent). I wear my bass reasonably high, which allows me to have the same upper body posture regardless of whether I’m sitting or standing.

I’m puzzled about how a stool to raise your left foot would help you (I don’t know whether or not you’re south-pawed, so…). The posture itself may be an issue – maybe you’re bending forward a bit with your upper body to see the fretboard, or to see the plucking hand?
Without wanting to get into detail, I can see how, for a female bass player, depending on your build, there may be a natural physical obstruction preventing you to see what your right hand is doing, if you catch my drift. If you have to go forward a bit to look down, that may put unnatural strain on your neck.

3 Likes

Huh.

I’m new to this so I appreciate the technique tips you forwarded to me, @joergkutter

I stand and have my left foot on a very short stool, which lifts my left knee up under the small boner and angles the bass guitar up so I can see the fret board better.

I’m guessing that’s not what I should be striving for? :grimacing:

2 Likes

Just trying to help, @ericabulman - there is no “one way only” to do things!

These were just a few pointers to be/become aware of! :smile:

3 Likes

I’m thinking that any posture that helps to get your joints in a position where you can operate your bass in as stress-free a position possible would help. If playing an instrument is causing pain, that’ll suck the enjoyment out of it.
I keep thinking that, if you have to compromise your posture to be able to see the fret board, practicing being able to play without a clear view on the fret board would definitely be the way to go. It may seem impossible at first, but I know from experience that you do get used to it.

When it comes to finding the best posture for you, as @joergkutter says, your mileage may vary. But as a general rule, most rock bass players (as well as guitar players) wear their instrument too low. It sure looks cool, but it forces unnatural joint stretching.

3 Likes

Absolutely and I appreciate that!

2 Likes