One of the first things that you’ll learn when you take piano lessons is what your posture should be and where you should position your hands and fingers when you play. Many piano teachers, in fact, can tell when someone is “self-taught” because they will not play the notes in the right hand and wrist positions. More often than not, if your hands hurt while you’re playing the piano, it’s because your posture or hand position isn’t right. Fortunately, doing something about this is easier than you think.
What Is the Correct Posture for Playing Piano?
Most of the time, piano hand pain is in the wrist area, and if you continue playing incorrectly, it can result in either tendinitis or even carpal tunnel syndrome, the latter of which is more severe. You can do something about it before it gets too bad by paying attention to what you learned in your very first lesson, which is the proper position for piano playing. This includes:
- Make sure that you sit up straight and align your head, shoulders, and hips.
- Make sure that your feet are flat on the floor. If they aren’t, use a stool.
- Align the elbow, wrist, and pinky finger when you’re playing.
- When playing, don’t use the wrists or fingers to play the notes; instead, use the weight of your arm.
- Make sure that the bench is at the right height for you to sit comfortably.
If you practice this position right from the start, it will become so natural to you that you won’t be able to imagine playing the piano any other way. When you are a new player, you may experience either pain or fatigue. Keep in mind these are two completely different things. In the beginning, you should limit the amount of time that you practice so you don’t experience pain. If you’re doing everything right, hand pain should be extremely rare.
What to Do About Hand Pain?
If you start to experience hand or wrist pain from piano playing, the first thing you should ask yourself is, am I playing with the right posture and hand positions? Chances are good that the answer to this question will be “no.” Most hand and wrist pain can be avoided by making sure that your hands and posture are the right ones and by not practicing for too many hours at a time.
Of course, the best way to handle hand and wrist pain is to prevent it from happening in the first place, but if it’s too late for that and you’re already hurting, here are a few things that you can do to help your hands and wrists feel better:
- During the day, try to raise your hands above your head in order to decrease the pressure on the nerves and to ease any fluid that has built up in your hands and wrists.
- Ice your wrists twice a day. Most hand and wrist pain is caused at least in part from inflammation, and ice can help reduce the swelling.
- Take breaks when you’re practicing. Stretch your hands and wrists and walk around before continuing your practice.
- Try not to sleep with your hands behind your head or under your pillow.
If you’re going to be a pianist, you have to learn how to take proper care of your hands and wrists, and not just around practice time. And if the pain is really bad, the best thing for you to do is stop playing until it at least subsides. This might be an inconvenience for many pianists, but it’s the best thing to do.
In addition, if you do decide to ice your hands and wrists, let them warm up before going to the piano once again. In other words, you never want to play with cold hands. You can even invest in some fingerless gloves if you have naturally cold hands so that your hands become warmer as you play.
Even seasoned pianists can experience hand and wrist pain, and the longer you play, the more likely it is that you’ll eventually go through this type of pain. In addition to using your arms and not your wrists to play the notes, it also helps if you keep your wrists straight as you play. Is it easy to play correctly all of the time, every time you play the piano? Absolutely not, which is why you hear of so many piano players who have hand and wrist problems. But the longer you play with your posture and hands in the correct position, the less likely you are to have the type of pain often associated with playing the piano.
The important thing to remember is to do your best to avoid this type of pain from the beginning, and as soon as you feel the pain, take good care of your hands and wrists and take a break whenever necessary.