My hands hurt when I practice…
Why are my wrists so tensed?
How to get rid of piano-related tendinitis?
Is arm fatigue normal after a practice session?
I’m in pain when I play – but I guess it’s normal, so I push through it…
What exercises can I do to heal a piano injury?
Injury-related questions are the most frequent ones I get .
Amateurs and professionals, beginners and ‘veterans’, young and old – this problem affects too many people nowadays (and the numbers are sadly rising).
WHY is this happening?
What are the main causes of piano-related tension and pain?
Are they easily avoidable?
How can we heal from an existing injury?
Find the answers to these questions by watching the video below!
Piano Injuries: Prevention and Recovery
How to Avoid Tension and Pain in Your Hands, Wrists, Elbows, Shoulders & Back
00:46. Correct piano playing does not cause pain and injuries!
The 4 Mega-Causes of Piano Injuries:
01:37. Cause No. 1: Bad posture and incorrect arm alignment.
02:36. How to avoid injury.
03:38. A good piano posture is a fluid process, not a static ‘hold’!
04:24. Cause No. 2: Incorrect technique.
05:11. A. Finger-only playing (and what to do instead to avoid injury).
09:09. B. 5-finger legato playing during the early beginner stage (and the healthy ergonomic alternative).
11:29. C. Tension, stiffness and static playing (and how to relax your muscles without falling off the bench).
14:28. D. Exaggerated finger stretching (and how to connect wide intervals without overstretching your hand).
16:10. E. Keybedding (and learning when to let go).
17:27. Is a bit of fatigue normal when we practice?
18:34. Cause No. 3: Incorrect practice.
19:03. Where to find the rest of this tutorial…
Get access to my full tutorial focused on injury prevention by joining PianoCareerAcademy.com!
In the Members Area you will also discover many hundreds of other exclusive lessons for all levels (including step-by-step courses and interactive projects) that reveal the professional secrets of the Russian piano school. Our program will help you to acquire a whole new perspective on piano playing and transform your skills so that you can play freely, confidently and brilliantly!
It’s time to hear your playing come alive and shine!
Recommended free tutorials:
The 5 Basic Elements of a Correct Piano Posture.
Video Course for Beginners. Lesson No. 1.
The Key Principles of Correct Piano Practice: a Step-By-Step Holistic Guide.
The Power of Perseverance in Learning to Play Piano: Why Musical Progress is Not Linear.
Wrist, Arm & Shoulder Warm-Up for Pianists.
Recommended tutorials (available on PianoCareerAcademy.com):
How to Stay Focused While Practicing.
When to Take a Break in Your Practice.
The ‘Breathing Hand’ Principle.
Have a very inspired practice,
P.S. Many new online piano lessons and video tutorials are coming soon on PianoCareer.com! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest to get instant updates, support and motivation!
If you enjoyed this free online piano lesson, here are some other piano learning and practice topics you’ll like:
No piano? How to practice anywhere
Why I Sometimes ‘Stray’ from the Musical Text in My Tutorials: a Holistic Investigation
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My Dear Maestra,
As a child, I studied piano for 9 years. My studies ended when my teacher passed. I am now 67 years old and have resumed piano lessons 1x per week. It is 2 months in into my studies. We have started with Hanon and Czerny. My 2 to 3 hour daily practice sessions have been reduced to every other day, 1 hour, due to wrist, thumb and general hand pain. Proper hand positioning, as well as technique and phrasing has been key, during all my years of study and yet I now find myself in an uncomfortable situation. I often ask, is this pain caused by natural aging or is my technique lacking as well as strength and dexterity? At the moment, a dilemma with no clear answer. Your view is great appreciated. Thank you and Brava!
Hanon, Czerny – and also the words ‘strength and dexterity’ tell me that you are currently using the old-school ‘finger’ approach. If you don’t have any medical conditions (such as arthritis) – a healthy piano technique should not cause any discomfort at your age. Quite the opposite – it should help you to keep your arms, wrists and hands young and flexible. Therefore, the cause of your current pain is incorrect finger-only technique – and also an incorrect approach to repertoire. You can learn more by reading my answer to question No. 30 from our FAQs (https://www.pianocareeracademy.com/faqs/).
You can also learn the ergonomic whole-arm technique from scratch, in a step-by-step manner, as a member of our program :).
Hello Ms. Vartic,
I watched Your video on “How to avoid piano injuries” and I have a few questions that are not addressed in the video and are concerning the problem I have. I’ve searched the solution on the internet but haven’t found the answer.
In correct sitting position our body is in the middle of the keyboard, facing the pedals under it and fourth octave on the keyboard. So, the correct, relaxed hand position would be when hands are placed from G4/A4 to the right and from A3/G3 to the left. That’s when the hands are parallel and with straight wrists. Here is the “but…” part:
But what happens if the right hand has to play the fourth octave from C4 or even further to the left while the left hand is somewhere on the second and third octave? And has to do it for the whole composition – the right hand part is situated only on the fourth octave. After ten minutes playing my right wrist is sore because it’s been staying in the same 45 degrees position while playing the chords. I’ve tried repositioning the chair to the left (which is not really a solution, and keyboard mapping in my head is off). So, that didn’t work.
The song in question is this:
Now for the second question:
I understand that relaxed hands and body is the key to enjoyable and successful playing but how to relax when learning a new composition, without being a prima vista musician, i.e. immediately knowing the finger position when looking at the notes? There has to be tension, which strength would be based on difficulty of the piece even in seasoned musicians, right? I’ve been playing guitar for 25 years and when playing familiar songs or just playing from the head (or the heart:)) I’m always relaxed and can play for hours, but whenever I’m learning new music, especially if it’s technically challenging then there is wrist and joint soreness, and my whole body gets stiff. And of course there is brain fatigue which I still haven’t found questioned and resolved on the internet. What I do then is just play something easy and well learned to give my brain time to reboot:). But that’s not the most scientific approach.
I know the benefits and problems of learning new things and psychological hurdles we all come across but when the problem is physiological than it’s something completely different and can really destroy the fun and enjoyment of doing things.
Anyhow, thank You for Your time.
Wow, those are very long questions – but I will do my best to write a short answer:
1. In your first question, you missed the part of my video above where I talk about fluidity and freedom of movement. A correct piano posture is not a static ‘hold’, but a fluid process. If you posture and distance from the instrument are correct, allowing full freedom of movement (so if you don’t sit too close to the piano, keeping your elbows ‘glued’ to your sides) – then your wrists will never be bent at sharp angles. Correct whole-arm technique is also crucial in this process. I have several detailed video tutorials on this exact topic on PianoCareerAcademy.com.
2. I’m afraid that you have been affected by the ‘sight-reading’ myth. If you learn a new piece correctly, there will be no tension in your arms or wrists. Again, I have very detailed tutorials on this topic on PianoCareerAcademy.com. Regarding the ‘sight-reading’ myth – I will soon launch a new video series called “The 7 Most Dangerous Myths – Debunked”. This series will be available for free – but only to our email newsletter subscribers.
So please subscribe in case you haven’t already (https://www.pianocareer.com/piano-expression/piano-phrasing/) – and get ready to have your entire perspective on our art completely transformed :).
Regarding Iva’s second question maybe playing the difficult passage slow to the point where one can concentrate on being tension free could be an answer. It might mean extreme slowness. For me a drawback to slow playing is that it does chew up a lot of practice time and takes from the fun of playing. But in the long run it may lead to success.
Of course, slow practice is crucial, and should never be skipped.
Correct practice is too complex a phenomenon to be described in a short reply – but slow work is one of its main elements. If this element is missing, everything else will crumble.
I cover this major cause of injuries in the 2nd part of the video (which is available for our members on PianoCareerAcademy.com).
P.S. If you wish to learn more about correct practice, you can watch this free tutorial: The Key Principles of Correct Piano Practice: A Step-By-Step Holistic Guide.
Lovely site, thanks!
Thank you, Ruth! 😉
I really enjoyed your video. I normally get some pain in my fingers when practicing certain arpeggios especially if the arpeggio starts on a white key. I will be following your advice.
My pleasure, Tayo!
Discomfort in arpeggio playing is usually caused by an incorrect wrist technique (most likely, lack of wrist flexibility and anticipation). Wrist technique, in its turn, is an inseparable part of whole-arm action. If you learn the fundamentals correctly, healthy arpeggio playing naturally falls into place :).