Proper use of the wrist is a key element in the development of good piano technique. It is important to take good care of your wrists and be fully aware of how they are being used in and out of piano practice. Be aware of activities that cause tightness or tension in the wrists – this is especially true for activities that commonly cause the development of tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains or injuries.
Remember that playing the piano should never hurt - no matter how long you practice. If your wrists become painful it is due to incorrect technique and misuse of your muscles and energy. The main sensation that should come about due to many hours of playing is tingling or sensitive fingertips.
If you feel any pain or tension it is important to stop practicing and relearn the proper way to execute your passages. Pianists who play through pain are simply reinforcing incorrect technique and are at risk for developing wrist and hand injuries. These pianists often find that once they get to a certain point of playing they cannot advance any further which causes them to be stuck on one level, become discouraged or unfortunately keep trying with the same approach.
Those who recover often stop playing the piano or find a teacher to help them “start all over” or fill in the gaps by developing good technique. This may include basic hand and finger repositioning, re-assigning a more effective height or distance from the keys, proper arm, hand and finger movements that encourage the muscles to “breathe” as well as exercises that loosen the wrists. Developing controlled, relaxed wrists will encourage great technique, better musicality and the most fulfilling experience at the piano.
Jodi Russell, B.M.,M.M.,NCTM