Tennis Elbow anyone?

I have started to learn the bass at the end of May. I also work out at the gym. One day as I was gonna start doing hammer curls I almost had to drop the dumbbell on my plucking (right) hand. I can’t grip hard. If I do it’s extremely painful. I’m using liniment and elbow brace, but still hurts.
I’m pretty sure the cause is playing the bass since I’ve never had this problem before and I’ve been working out for years, except when I had to take time off for medical reasons.
Is this common with guitar or bass playing? Any advice how to alleviate or lessen the pain?

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If it hurts to grip (make a fist) then it’s actually medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow rather than tennis elbow.

My biggest tip would be to relax. I know Josh mentions it in his lessons but being all excited to get started learning bass we might have selective hearing. :smile:

Playing bass (and most stringed instruments) takes very little, like amazingly little, effort and probably most people starting out use way more force than is needed. Try barely touching the strings with your fretting hand and just brushing them with your plucking fingers. It will sound bad or hardly make a sound at all. Slowly increase the pressure of your fretting hand and the force of your plucking hand until you are making good sounding notes. You’ll probably find at that point that you are using a lot less pressure/force than you normally do.

Youtube has a lot of great videos on stretching and exercises for both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. Check some out and give them a try.


Golfer’s elbow. Yes, you’re right. I’ve been stretching and wearing one of those round bands three inches below the bend of the elbow and still nothing. I know that at times when playing something not yet familiar to my fingers I tend to tense up when plucking, but that’s only for a brief moment. When I get to parts like that I play it slow and over and over.
I will try your suggestion and see what happens. I’ve lost ten pounds already and need to go to the gym and get back the weight I lost. Thank you.


I know your pain, @SugarRay319! I’ve had low grip strength and pain for years. The most helpful thing for me has been regular massage for my forearms. They get real real tense, and if I don’t break down the fascia and give them relief regularly, my wrists and fingers get very choked. Try that? I went and got one of these because it fit in my tour travel stuff, and I literally needed a massage after every performance:


I gotta do something. I’m still practicing, but I stopped going to the gym for like ten days. I got to get back there tomorrow. I feel like shit. I’ll do some research on that. Thank you.


Ouch man, I feel your pain. I’ve given myself both elbow and shoulder tendonitis multiple times by working out. However I am pretty sure the treatment would be the same as for RSI tendonitis, specifically:

1 - Most important - stop doing what you were doing to cause the injury. Not permanently, just for now. You don’t want to aggravate it. In this case, maybe see how it feels to switch to a pick on bass for a while, or see if it’s a good time to learn slap, if those feel better? In any case, ease off a bit until you can talk to a pro.
2 - Talk to a pro about it ASAP. Trainers or physical therapists would be perfect and could tell you if you need to see a doctor. They could also tell you alternate exercises to help.
3 - Don’t stop exercising, but work around it. Sounds like you have this one covered :slight_smile:
4 - If there is someone you can show your right hand plucking technique to they might be able to tell you what’s up. Josh and others have some good videos about it on youtube as well.

For a while I kept hurting myself working out because my workout involves heavy weight and lots of overhead pulling, kind of a recipe for shoulder and elbow injury. Plus I’m like forty-elevenish and not getting any younger. The above advice helped me.


Forty-elevenish? Ha. I’m 61 and in remission from my second cancer, but I feel strong. I can no longer work, that’s why I need these hobbies. Weight lifting and cardio keep me fit, the Bass helps me pass the time and is something I’m really enjoying.

I have to see my primary for my regular checkup and will see if he prescribes some therapy.
Thanks for your advice.


I really admire you for this and hope that I can face challenges so well when they come up.


I hope you never have to face them. It’s a nightmare, but one can’t and shouldn’t give in. Just keep fighting and hope for the best.


Dusting off an old thread, because I developed golfer’s elbow in my plucking hand :frowning: Squeezing/gripping hurts, and it’s not much fun. Never had an injury like this ever despite playing racquet sports and general life activities.

I got too enthused about the B2B course and apparently overdid the hours of practise per day. Now my physiotherapist is telling me it could be 3 months before I’m 100% again :frowning:

I’m going with massage, anti-inflammatories, trying to rest the area when possible, and my bass is gathering dust /cry


Healing before bass for sure. RSI’s are terrible.

That said, this also sounds like a great time to learn playing with a pick, as long as it doesn’t hurt to grip one :slight_smile:

That sucks. Hope you recover fast!