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Maintenance & Care

Relieving Hand Fatigue

Many flutists experience various forms of hand fatigue in flute playing. This may produce temporary muscle aches and tension during and/or after playing. In some cases, such fatigue can lead to more serious problems such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Simple steps flutists can take to relieve and possibly eliminate hand fatigue include:

  • Taking frequent breaks during practice sessions to stretch and relax muscles.
  • Consult with your physician/physical therapist about stretches and exercises you can do to maintain flexibility and strength.
  • Improve your hand position. Monitor hand position on a regular basis.

Many flutists comment that the use of "guides" such as a Thumbport or a BoPep help them to easily balance the flute in their hands. This ability to more gently balance the flute removes tension from the fingers, hand, wrist, arm, shoulders and back, ultimately helping to improve the facility and technique of playing. It can also aid to reduce muscle ache.

If simple precautions do not improve hand fatigue, flutists may need to take further steps:

  • Consider changing from an inline to offset G flute. Offset G keys provide a more natural hand position which can greatly reduce hand fatigue.
  • Consider a flute of less weight: thinner tubing, fewer options (e.g. C# trill, split E, etc.) and/or C-foot in lieu of B-foot. For those flutists who appreciate the benefits of a split E mechanism, they may consider having a lightweight high E facilitator installed in their new flute.

Flutists may also consider having key extensions installed on their flute:

key_extensions.jpg (15606 bytes)

This solution can provide a more comfortable hand position, which results in relieving hand fatigue and strain.

Key extensions may be constructed using upper C buttons and/or G# key levers which are then custom-shaped to match the appearance of your present flute. The extensions are carefully soldered to your flute keys to provide the optimal position for your hand position. Soldering assures confidence in maintaining the security of your extensions. Extensions are safe for your flute and can be removed by a technician if desired.

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