Several months ago, I had the terrible misfortune of overusing my hands and triggering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The nerves in my wrists and hands were compressed and injured.
If you are a musician and you are reading this, I bet a solid chunk of dread just dropped in your stomach. Before I got injured, I always had that reaction whenever I heard of someone else getting injured. Now that it was myself, I wanted to deny it as much as possible.
Alas, pain can only be denied up to a certain point. Then, it just becomes numbness and tingling, and then your hands just stop functioning. Period. And I was forced to grapple with the bitter truth.
Luckily for me, I found a clinic in Bandung, Indonesia, where I could do routine physiotherapy for roughly 20 SGD per session. I daresay it’s probably the cheapest legitimate physiotherapy session you have ever heard of. The therapists said that if I did my hand stretches, strengthening exercises, and physiotherapy sessions routinely, then I could get better in 2 months. I did not have to get an operation.
I know I was very, very lucky. Several pianist friends who got injured needed hand operations in order for their wrists to be able to function again. I’m not trying to scare anyone – I just want to say how important prevention of injury is before it happens to others.
Since then, I’ve gotten much better and have been able to play some piano again. But even as I am typing this blog post, I am still wearing a wrist brace. I can only play piano for about 5-10 minutes a day. Luckily, I don’t perform anymore – I just make random 1-minute clips of music for my Instagram and TikTok. But can you imagine if this happened to someone who was at the height of their performing activities?
This is why I strongly believe if you have the means to understand more about how your body works, please take advantage of it. The Academy has a course precisely on this. Playing with Ease and Awareness starts on October 12 with Colleen Jennings, a violinist who had dealt with injuries herself.
Take it from me: even with the cheapest physiotherapy deal one could find, it still added up to more than the price of Colleen’s course.