If you smack something with a stick over and over and over again, it’s inevitable that your hand will eventually start to hurt. Soreness and hand cramps are just things that come with the territory if you’re a drummer. But there are ways to control it so it doesn’t creep in at a bad time. Here are a few really simple solutions for drum related hand pain that are incredibly easy to add to your routine.
1. Stay Hydrated
This one is pretty simple: when your muscles start to dehydrate, they cramp up. Drinking water before and during gigs and practices is an easy way to stay ahead of this, and if you’re going to be sweating under stage lights or the hot sun at a daytime summer festival, you’re going to need even more.
And it’s water you need to drink, not beer. Alcohol flushes all the water our of your system, so while chugging back a few frosty brews during your rock set may sound like the most refreshing thing in the world, it’s really doing more harm than good. Save the longnecks for after the set.
2. Do Stretches
Just like any other physical activity, it’s important to warm up and stretch before you start playing your drums. There are a lot of stretches out there, but a good starting point is to extend your arms out in front of you and over your head while pulling your fingers back to you. This will prime your fingers and wrists for more rigorous activity.
3. Adjust Your Grip
The key here is loosening up — hand muscles have the tendency to cramp if they’re gripping something too hard. If you’re developing pain in your thumb and forefinger, you might be grasping your stick too hard at the top of the hand while laying into your kit. Relax your hand and try using all your fingers to hold the stick, distributing your grip throughout the hand. This’ll take some pressure off the fingers that are causing you problems.
If you’re a loud drummer, you might be squeezing your sticks super hard while slamming the skins. Train yourself to keep your hands relaxed, and you’ll experience immediate relief.
4. Try Different Sticks
Stick selection plays directly into keeping your grip relaxed. Thin sticks, especially if you’re bearing down on them for volume, will immediately make a drummer’s hand hurt. Find something that rests comfortably in your hand that doesn’t take the strength of a vise-grip to work with.
Some drum sticks are coated in a slick lacquer that immediately goes slippery once a little bit of sweat is introduced. Stick to rougher matte finishes to keep your grip comfortable.
5. Use Grip Tape and Gloves
Drumstick grip tape, similar to what hockey stars use on their sticks, is available. This creates more friction and allows you to squeeze down on the stick less. There’s also nylon-covered alloy sticks — like what Metallica basher Lars Ulrich uses — that are designed to cut back shock by 50 percent, which will give your hands and wrists a break. And if you want to go full-on Tommy Lee, many brands manufacture drum gloves as well. Pick a pair up and you’ll be soloing on an upside-down-flying-roller-coaster kit in no time!
6. Get off the phone!
Texting, scoping out Facebook, browsing Instagram and furiously swiping right on Tinder are all repetitive motions that cause all sorts of hand soreness and can lead to more severe issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. And hand pain from smartphone use will directly impact your hands while you hit the drums. Clearly the most challenging of all these tips, try cutting back on poking around on the social media with your phone. Your hands will thank you.
Julian Ludwig é diretor do Pro Áudio Clube, produtora de áudio Jacarandá, Loc On Demand e Jacarandá Licensing. Trabalhou para empresas como: Guaraná Antartica, TV Gazeta, NET, Chivas Regal, FNAC, Prefeitura de São Paulo, Mukeca Filmes, Agência LEW’LARA TBWA, Agencia MPM, Agência Content House entre outras. Fez trilhas para programas de TV como: Internet-se (Rede TV), Você Bonita (TV Gazeta), Mix Mulher (TV Gazeta), Os Impedidos (TV Gazeta), Estação Pet (TV Gazeta), CQC (TV Band) Vinheta Oficial TV Gazeta, entre outras. Também atuou em vários longas e curtas metragens, incluindo mixagem em 5.1 e serviços de pós-produção.