As someone who dealt with debilitating injuries as a direct result of playing and crafting shakuhachi, I know the hardships all too well. However, for many of us, nothing is more trying than feeling alone in our suffering. I hope our experiences here will help others who’re similarly suffering to not feel alone and to give them realistic hope of recovering. Thank you to all of the people who contribute their stories to this page. Here’s to a lifetime of playing shakuhachi. Ro on, Jon~
Disclaimer – The information here is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Rather, it’s intended to help people to not feel alone in their struggles with RSI and to encourage people to seek out specific, qualified individuals such as physiotherapists.
Kyle Rasmussen – Thumb pain at MCP joint (04/29/2020)
My problem was diagnosed by specialists for my condition. What exactly caused my injury is hard to nail down as RSI takes time to develop. Whether it was caused or simply exacerbated by my shakuhachi fingering, is near impossible to tell. If there is a wrist or thumb issue, the therapists were quite clear that it needs rest. It was extremely hard for me to put away the flute. But two weeks of rest allows me a lifetime of playing. My rest was made easier by a personalized brace made by the hand therapist. They could bend and craft it so I could play the shakuhachi with it on.
After I could perform the exercises applied to me I was graduated to this putty, which, my god, is an amazing tool to build strength and flexibility. I absolutely love this putty. But, it’s only to be used after the exercises. Nothing should be painful but the therapist always told me to stretch right up to the pain. Stretching in repetition multiple times a day is a key for quicker and more thorough rehab.
When I brought my flute into the clinic I held it like so
The therapist said that the “V” shape on the back of my thumb was troubling. With a modicum of extra grip stress while playing that V was a hyper extension. I was advised to grip more naturally. They had me relax my hand. Note the now straight thumb and minimal contortion. This is the “Piper’s grip” [on the top hand]. The Piper’s grip is quite common on longer flutes but it is also applicable on the a 1.8. Overall, this grip allows me to have a lighter grasp without sacrificing finger mobility or holding confidence. As everyone’s physiology is different, I’d highly recommend anyone with hand stress to see a physiotherapist sooner than later. It was one of the best investment into my music.