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Thread: Left hand pain during noto/nukiuchi

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    Default Left hand pain during noto/nukiuchi

    I've been training for close to five years now, but over the last few months I've been cursed by a repeated muscle strain that I feel across the back of my left hand. It's not a bother in any other application than iai, and occurs frequently during drawing and/or noto. Specifically during either kiriage or flat cuts, where the saya is rotated while also being withdrawn rearwards. My guess is that the small tendons in the hand are getting bound up by those actions.

    Has anyone ever experienced similar pains? If so (or even if not), can anyone suggest specific a good stretching regimen that might alleviate this? I've spoken to my doctor, but he wasn't a big help. Truthfully, I don't expect him to understand the dynamics of these motions; if all else fails, I'll seek out a sports-medicine expert. But if you folks can help out, that'd be a valuable first step...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Pettett View Post
    I've been training for close to five years now, but over the last few months I've been cursed by a repeated muscle strain that I feel across the back of my left hand. It's not a bother in any other application than iai, and occurs frequently during drawing and/or noto. Specifically during either kiriage or flat cuts, where the saya is rotated while also being withdrawn rearwards. My guess is that the small tendons in the hand are getting bound up by those actions.

    Has anyone ever experienced similar pains? If so (or even if not), can anyone suggest specific a good stretching regimen that might alleviate this? I've spoken to my doctor, but he wasn't a big help. Truthfully, I don't expect him to understand the dynamics of these motions; if all else fails, I'll seek out a sports-medicine expert. But if you folks can help out, that'd be a valuable first step...
    I don't know much about your injury, but aikido has some good stretches for the wrist. If you look for "ikkyo undo," "sankyo undo," and "kotegaeshi undo" on YouTube, you'll see them demonstrated. For some reason, nikkyo undo isn't there, but if you start out like ikkyo, rotate your forearm so your fingers point forwards (away from your chest) instead of down, then use your other hand to help the wrist turn a little bit farther in that same rotational direction, that's nikkyo undo. I almost always do these to limber up my wrists before iai practice.

    You may also want to check out wrist RSI resources, as they're bound to have wrist stretches/exercises, too.

    Hope this helps!
    -Corwyn Miyagishima
    宮城島 コーウィン

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    Brian, I don't know which ryuha you train in, but nukiuchi & noto pretty much use the same muscles, at least in MJER & KSR. But the left hand really doesn't do a whole lot for those two movements except for saya-biki, so let me key in on that for a start.

    Are you by any chance pulling the saya away & back from your obi really hard, rather than just sliding your hand & saya backwards along the obi? That's generally a newbie problem, & it likely would have been corrected by your sensei early on. But if your school requires that particular twisting movement, this could definitely put some strain on the back of your left hand, & more particularly the inside of your left wrist (which is attached, of course).

    You mention kiriage, which when performed in our form of MJER doesn't twist the saya, but rather twists the blade right after drawing. Similarly, we draw the blade vertically from the saya for nukitsuke, so there's no twisting motion for us until after it's free. These do point towards my theory of over-twisting the saya during nukitsuke/noto, but I honestly have never heard of anyone with your particular ailment, Brian. Do you happen to have a short video clip of your nukitsuke & noto, & maybe even kiriage? That would allow us to view the kinematics of what hurts you.
    Ken Goldstein
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    "A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it'll annoy enough people to be worth the effort."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Pettett View Post
    ...if all else fails, I'll seek out a sports-medicine expert. But if you folks can help out, that'd be a valuable first step...
    Seeking a diagnosis/assessment from a professional is important, since we can't do the necessary examination over the internet. I'd seek out a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or (if your state has high standards for their licensing) massage therapist for help.

    In the mean time here are some generalizations:

    Most of the muscles that move the hands and fingers are up in the forearm, and act through long tendons that run through the carpal tunnel. If these tendons are becoming inflammed you could be getting referred pain in the hand.

    Treatment in the short term to reduce the inflammation is indicated, and a non-steroidal anti-inflamatory such as aspirin may be beneficial.

    Next, immersing your hands and wrists in a tub of icewater after practice can help to reduce inflamation in the muscles and tendons, and swelling of the adjacent tissues.

    Moist heat application may be benifical on your rest days, but should not be used within 8 hours of practice unless advised by a professional.

    HTH.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    As Brian said, check the muscles further up in your forearm. I spent a couple weeks icing my wrist one time until I slapped myself in the head and iced my elbow (tennis elbow area) and fixed the wrist problem in about ten minutes.

    Check your left elbow, especially the "tennis elbow" area and see if it's tender, if it is try deep friction and ice and see if your hand clears up.

    Kim Taylor

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    I've had my share of wrist problems including a time when I had a pain that sounds remarkably similar to what you are describing. For me it is training with the sword, training and teaching aikido (watch out for beginners), and then the polishing, carving, etc. Anyway, I went to see a physical therapist and after a week or two of trying different things with no success even though I'd laid off the various things that hurt it he suggested that not only should I ice it appropriately (lots of good advice here already) but then he suggested wearing a commercial over the counter wrist brace (with support) at night when I slept. It turned out that I was sleeping on the hand/wrist/arm at night and that was enough to "push me over" the edge in terms of injury. Within a few days the pain went away completely.

    Obviously see a professional. I just thought I'd share that bit since what we'd tried up until that point didn't seem to do it.

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    Having trained Brian for the past 5 years, I don't suspect there's much wrong with the sayabiki technique, but we'll see in LA in a couple weeks right? Remind me to check your left hand, for everything not just sayabiki.
    Could basically be anything with the left hand; maybe over-muscling the grip and/or cuts...

    Regards,

    r e n

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Taylor View Post
    As Brian said, check the muscles further up in your forearm. I spent a couple weeks icing my wrist one time until I slapped myself in the head and iced my elbow (tennis elbow area) and fixed the wrist problem in about ten minutes.

    Check your left elbow, especially the "tennis elbow" area and see if it's tender, if it is try deep friction and ice and see if your hand clears up.

    Kim Taylor
    I have had my share too with my 3.8 Now I have these 'extra muscles' that have developed over years of training. As everyone advises you get some advice. Sadly all very repetitive exercise has these problems.

    Just one thing though. When I go to my orthpeadic expert in Japan he always makes a point of warming joints and not cooling them down.

    Get some wrist supports. Its not a pussy thing to do. I am well strapped up with knee supports etc for strong exercise. One thing my injuries have taught me is protection 'prevents' the injuries.
    Hyakutake Colin

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    Quote Originally Posted by hyaku View Post
    ...When I go to my orthpeadic expert in Japan he always makes a point of warming joints and not cooling them down.
    Heat can be beneficial after the initial treatment, or to prevent injury, but immediate treatment generally should be cold to reduce inflammation, with heat later to improve circulation.

    The standard mnemonic device used is "RICE" -- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

    An advanced therapeutic modality consists of alternating cycles of cold and heat, but that is way beyond the scope of simple, over-the-internet, advice.

    For Budoka, a warm shower or bath, or soaking the hands and wrists in warm water before practice can be good, with a cold soak of hands and wrists immediately after. Another warm shower or bath after a workout would be fine, but I'd avoid directly heating painful joints less than several hours after practice.

    HTH.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Just bouncing off what Brian said, I was told to apply the RICE treatment back when I ran cross country in high school for some ankle injuries. It worked quite well. It worked even better when I added in a nice soak in the gym's hot tub several hours after exercising and icing.
    David Sims

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    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DDATFUS View Post
    ...It worked even better when I added in a nice soak in the gym's hot tub several hours after exercising and icing.
    I remember the head trainer of one team I worked with who taught me a shortcut.

    He didn't want to hang around for several hours after a game, so he'd tape icepacks on the shoulders or elbows of the guys, then after 10 - 15 minutes he'd have them get into the hydro tank with the icepacks still on!

    The hot water would work its whole-body magic, but the icepacks would keep the injured spots from getting hot.

    At Ashmead College, where I got my certification, we'd freeze little paper cups of water and then after they were frozen we'd tear back the paper to expose the ice, and use the "icepops" for massage. I could actually tell by how fast the ice was melting how inflammed the client's tissue was.

    By alternating ice massage with hot packs at 5 - 10 minute intervals over an hour, we could get a good lymphatic "pump" going, but it takes experience to do this properly. Icing right after a workout and then using hot packs at night or the next day is nearly as effective, and easier for the layman.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    First off, thanks to everyone who has responded; I have been using ice when I can, and have used some of the hand stretches that our aikido folks at the dojo use, to some effect. And I also have assumed that something in my technique is to blame, as I have been experimenting a lot as of late in altering my hand positioning, in order to facilitate good cutting from the draw.

    But after spending a couple of weeks trying to track down what's going on, I think it may have a seemingly innocuous cause. Perhaps in the same vein as Keith said, I have begun to think that the way I carry my swords to practice might be the root factor. Through shrewd choices, I now live only about 1/2 mile from my dojo, and I frequently walk to class. In the process, I carry my equipment bag and sword bag diagonally over my left shoulder, across my back. This puts a lot of pressure on the left clavicle area, and lately I have noticed some slight numbness in my left arm (and hand) during the walk to class. It is slight enough to be barely noticeable, but perhaps I am pinching a nerve in the process?

    I purposely avoided such carry today, and didn't suffer from the syndrome I described above. I will investigate this more in the weeks ahead, and see if it indeed is the cause. And as Ren said, I do have the occasion in the next two weeks to meet with senior folks in my ryuha, which might rule out any physical issues. But I appreciate everybody's input to this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Owens View Post
    I remember the head trainer of one team I worked with who taught me a shortcut.

    He didn't want to hang around for several hours after a game, so he'd tape icepacks on the shoulders or elbows of the guys, then after 10 - 15 minutes he'd have them get into the hydro tank with the icepacks still on!
    Interesting! Now that you mention that, I saw athletes at my college do the same thing a few years ago. I just didn't know exactly what they were up to. Thanks for the tip; that might come in handy in the future.
    David Sims

    "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum." - Terry Pratchet

    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Pettett View Post
    Perhaps in the same vein as Keith said, I have begun to think that the way I carry my swords to practice might be the root factor.
    This is easily solvable: make someone elsecarry your kit to the dojo. (I can think of a couple of volunteers; we'll sort out the details later this month in LA!)

    Regards,

    r e n

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    Heh - I'll be satisfied if I was able to just get someone to wheel my swordcase through Tokyo Station, come October. Now that's a workout...

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