If like me, you have ever suffered from tennis elbow, you'll know what a nuisance it is. I've only really had it badly once, most of the time it's just a constant nagging pain in the background. I used to get it when I'd carry the shopping home. By the time I'd get to put the bags down, I wouldn't be able to bend my arm! And then there was this gig I did in a large working men's club, where only my bass drum had been mic'd up. During the interval I received reports that the drums were lacking power.... I took this as a criticism, that I wasn't putting enough into it. Actually, it was just the way my kit was sounding against everything coming out of the P.A.! I played really hard in the second half to compensate this and at the end of the night I had a tingling in my hands (early signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and then next day I had really bad tennis elbow. This sucks, I thought.
I've put up with it on and off for the best part of five years, when recently I asked one of my students, Tom (who just so happens to know stuff about physiotherapy through his work as an athletics coach coacher) and he showed me a few things that would help reduce the pain and eventually eradicate it.
Because, let's face it, drumming, like athletics, involves a lot of repetitive action which puts a lot of stress on specific muscle groups, joins, ligaments, and stuff.... and yet, how often do drummers warm-up? And I don't mean warming-up by playing paradiddles. I mean stretching and twisting the arms and fingers BEFORE picking the sticks up. As a drummer of nearly 30 years I honestly say that until now I NEVER did stretching exercises before playing - and here lies the problem!!!
Tennis Elbow (which I think we can rename Drummer's Elbow) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be treated with some basic physio called 'Active Release Technique' which the following videos explain.
This first video explains the theory:
on the forearm...
slightly different but same idea...
back of the forearm...
Thanks go to Tom Crick for sending me these links.