How do I avoid pain when playing the drums?

Author: Simon DasGupta.
September 14, 2022

In this article

Are you experiencing discomfort or pain when playing the drums? It's not uncommon for beginner drummers to experience this, but there's no need to worry! We can address these minor aches and pains before they become more frequent groans.

  • Should drumming be painful?
  • How to avoid drumming injuries.
  • Common pain points and how understanding good drumming techniques can help.

Drumming should not be painful.

One of the main benefits of taking drum lessons is the ability to quickly identify areas of your technique that may lead to injury.

Playing the drums should not hurt you. If it does, it is usually a breakdown in grip, posture, or foot pedal technique. Throughout this article, we reference a free video to help you. This is our Course Preview video - it's free to watch, and will give you some helpful insight into developing your playing style to stay healthy and build control.

Taking care of your hands.

Your hands should not bleed when you are playing the drums. This is entirely avoidable by refining how you are holding your sticks. If you follow the instructions in the free video, the worst-case scenario would be the occasional callus, and only if you play for many hours a week. Even that becomes less common over time.

Holding the stick lightly is the key to controlled, dynamic, and comfortable drumming. If you are experiencing discomfort in your hands, you may be holding the stick too tight. If you are regularly breaking sticks, this is also a sign that your grip technique may need some attention.

When playing the drums and cymbals, working with the stick's natural rebound will help you avoid stress injuries, and we discuss this in our videos.

Neck and shoulder health.

Neck or shoulder pain is often a result of bad posture or a drum set-up that is not ergonomic. Our free video shows you how to set your drum seat according to your overall body height and stresses the importance of sitting up straight on your lumbar spine. If you slouch by relaxing the lower back muscles, you will feel eventual discomfort in your lower back and neck.

Sitting up straight in the early days of drumming may feel uncomfortable or unnatural, but it is worth persevering. It will save your lower back and neck from stress and facilitate better control of your arms and legs.

Also, remember that drum set ergonomics can play a role. For example, even with good posture, if your drums and cymbals are too low, too high, too close, or far away, you could be forcing yourself into an unnatural playing position. Our free video will help you find the right balance.

What about the hips?

If you are experiencing tenderness in the hips, this can be from sitting too high or too low on your drum seat and can also occur when you are hovering on the bass drum or hi-hat pedals.

Let's talk about seat height first. Hopefully, you have invested in a comfortable, height-adjustable seat or throne, as they are often called. As Simon states in the free video, the seat is your most important equipment item. A cheap model will not offer you the support you need and is usually an afterthought for most beginner drummers. Don't skimp here, as your back health depends on it! Seat height is subjective, but we recommend that your thigh's angle is level with the ground as a general guideline.

When you are playing the pedals, it is advisable to have your feet touching the footplate at all times. If you hover by raising either of your feet too high and off the footplate, you can put pressure on your hip, even with an appropriate seat height.

Feet and ankles.

Again, having an appropriate seat height can help alleviate discomfort in your feet or ankles, but paying attention to the bass drum and hi-hat pedal technique is equally important.

In our free video, we discuss the heel-up and heel-down techniques that can improve your control and simultaneously give you comfort and support. If you find that your shin is hurting due to playing the bass drum pedal, this might be down to your technique, and using a heel-up technique can help.

Our FREE guide is packed with useful tips for beginner drummers on bad habits to avoid

free guide, 10 bad drumming habits and how to fix them
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