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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #1 
Just wondering if anyone else has found that sitar practice has caused you back problems.
I have developed a very painful Sciatic nerve issue in my lower back.
I am seeing a Chiropractor for it, and it gets better, but after a long practice session I can be almost crippled with back pain.
I have started practicing without sitting in traditional posture.
I sit on a soft pillow in a loose cross leg style, and sit the toomba on a second pillow next to my right leg. This gets the sitar in the correct position, but allows me to not have my left leg contorted under me.
I have found that the problem is that when you get your left leg under to the point where you can rest the toomba on the foot, the left hip has to rotate oddly in the socket which causes a stress on the sciatic nerve going through the hip.

Just wondering if anyone else has this problem.
I am trying yoga to aid in flexibility, and I really want to get back to proper sitting position, but the pain I go through has made me reluctant to do this.
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cheesemaster

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi there. Do you actually slouch when in the "traditional posture" ? It might be that your position breaks down during riyaz. Because from my experience sitting in the right posture should not by itself generate back pain. Do you have a history of back pain or a prior injury ? In that case a bit of yoga (in particular the "cobra") before riyaz works for me. Also take constant breaks after around every 20 minutes of riyaz....walk around and also do some back stretches to loosen the tightness that builds up when sitting.Also swimming greatly helped me. This is entirely manageable so do not worry!
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povster

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Reply with quote  #3 
CW - check out a wedge shaped dense foam style pillow used in yoga. Joanna Mack, a close friend and good sitarist brought one to my place last week where I host her lessons. It was quite wonderful and should help me in my rudra vin (which is wreaking some havoc on my body with the unaccostomed positions). It will also be useful when a do some work on sitar or surbahar.

Just a very dense foam pillow cut in a wedge shape you place under your posterior (thin side under you) and it really made a difference.

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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks Cheesemaster.
I looked up the cobra position and did it for a while today before my lesson.
Helped a lot. Just loosens up the back.
My teacher let me borrow a good book on Yoga techniques and the parts of the body the move effects.
I had not had the problem before I started to study sitar.
I think there is a mistake in the way I sit for Riyaz.
I think there is an angled kink in my lower back when I play.

Povster, I will look for the pillow.
The most comfortable for me is to be on a pillow with my back to a wall or the end of the bed.
The yoga pillow sounds perfect.
Is it something like this:
http://www.yoga-ez.com/meditation-seat.html

I also saw some yoga seats online.
They are plastic or wood, butt fitting seats that are only about two inches off the floor.
They make it easier to sit with your spine straight.
It supports you so that there is less stress on your hips and your knees can be lower in relation to your hips.
http://koafurniture.com/product-galleries/meditation-stools

Anyhoo, thanks for the input.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hey CW!

Actually the seat I saw (will see it again tomorrow) is essentially a square shaped wedge - thick on the back and tapering to the front. (My use of the word "wedge" should be taken literally). I think in your area there should be several shops with yoga gear. You should drop by a couple and check out the meditation pillows they have. (In retrospect these are indeed "meditation" pillows designed to help maintain an erect back position.)

Check a few out and lettuce know the outcome! I will be doing the same.

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financier

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Reply with quote  #6 
Carleton,,,,

I had problems also. I went to the chiorpractor and he gave me a stretch to do before and after. And it totally helped. It was a stretch you do standing with one foot on floor and one on bed.

D

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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #7 
cwroyds


I often find people have an acute case of earache after I've played & I heven't yet found out exactly why.

Nick
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #8 
Hey Carleton.. don't tell anyone I told you, but you can play sitar sitting Western-Style on a sofa
You just have to adjust the balance slightly (a steeper angle without the support of the knee), but it works perfectly well.
If the traditional posture is causing pain, don't think twice and find a comfortable position.
It's really easy to do a lot of damage if you're not careful.
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fbidris

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Reply with quote  #9 
I visit this site occasionally, and I usually don't have much to say about the many interesting topics the forum participants discuss, but this one is different for me.

What CW describes has plagued me for many years--thirty years, to be exact. Pain in the left hip and thigh is the reason playing sitar is not my primary occupation. I still play and love it, but I can't play for long because of the severe pain it causes. I have seen doctors, have done all kinds of tests, have received steroid shots into my back and left SI joint--nothing has helped (and of course, I have spent thousands of dollars). I have also done a whole bunch of yoga postures. I still hope some day the pain will go away and I will be able to play for hours comfortably. Now I can play for not more than an hour (in two sessions), and yes, when I play, my back is as straight as a flagpole.

CW: Keep us posted on your sciatica. Let's us know if the cobra position helps--I haven't tried that one.

Povster: Does that pillow have a name? Is it available in an internet store?

Financier: Would you mind sharing some more details of that floor and bed strech?

Rex: I have tried to play that way too. The problem is I can't have a good grip on the instrument unless the toomba sits nicely on the arch of my left foot. Playing on a sofa doesn't work for me, but it's probably a good alternative.

Thanks for all your inputs. I am at least glad to know that I am not the only one.

fbidris
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ameenderthal

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Reply with quote  #10 
I use two harder -as in not extra soft- kitchen chair pillows. You can purcase them in twos and tie them together. If they're too soft, they give you no support.
The height lets my legs be a little lower and has helped ease my years-long lower back problem. The sitar also sits more easily on my left foot.
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "fbidris"
I can't have a good grip on the instrument unless the toomba sits nicely on the arch of my left foot.
If it slips, you can try resting the toomba on a rectangular patch of latex shelf liner.
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financier

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Reply with quote  #12 
the stretch is hard to describe,,but will do my best

stand facing your bed,,right up against it
then put one leg on the bed with knee bent at 90 degrees,,,and lie the leg on the bed with,,,almost like your left leg is when sitting and playing,,,
then you slowly bend your body toward the knee,,,keeping the other leg straight and alittle out behind,,,,

hope that helps,,but it did wonders for my back,,,,

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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #13 
Last night I worked out the big problem.
When in traditional position, with my left leg under me, I end up with a little twist in my lower back.
Adding that to the angle of the left hip causes bad things in my back/hip.
Maybe I need to do more yoga to loosen me up so it does not happen, but I think even with being limber there would still be a twist in the lower back.
Is anyone here able to sit in the correct position without a slight twist in the lower back?

I tried every other possible position to play.
I tried in a chair, on the couch, on the floor with my back against the wall, and every kind of pillow.
The problem with most chairs/couches is that the sitar does not sit close enough to the correct position.
I would not want to spend a ton of time with riyaz when I am training my hands at the wrong position.

The one that ended up working was sitting cross legged on a soft pillow on the floor with a small pillow on my right side instead of my foot. I put a leather chamois on the little pillow which keeps the sitar from slipping. Works pretty well. It is funny that just that little extra stretch to get the left leg under does me in.

I thought about trying the PRS way.
On stage he sits on a bench. It is long enough to set the toomba on the bench next to him.
This would allow me to be in correct position and put little stress on the lower back.

Just to be clear, I still play in traditional position some of the time, but it really takes its toll.
If I am running taans or doing hard riyaz on basic things I like to use the pillows as it takes my mind off my back.

And yes the Cobra yoga position seems to work well to take away some of the stress in the back. I am reading about other positions that might help and will post them when I find the ones that work well.

Thanks for all the input.
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fbidris

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "cwroyds"
I tried every other possible position to play.
I tried in a chair, on the couch, on the floor with my back against the wall, and every kind of pillow.
The problem with most chairs/couches is that the sitar does not sit close enough to the correct position.
I would not want to spend a ton of time with riyaz when I am training my hands at the wrong position.
CW describes all the ways I have been trying to practice. He recognizes the problem in them quite accurately. Playing in the wrong position can cause other damage. The ideal solution is to fix the source of the pain. I don't if know that is possible in my case because it is an old problem, but I will keep trying. I am not sure if the PRS position would work for me. PRS can do it because he is trained to play in the posture of his school: the neck raised much higher with no support from the left knee. I like to place the neck on the knee, and this way I can have much higher speed in my right hand. But maybe it's time to try other positions.

Financier: Thanks for sharing that. I will try it. One question is which leg is being exercised, the one on the floor or the one on the bed?

Rex: Thanks for the suggestion. I will try it. Yes, playing in a sofa usually causes the toomba to slip. The sofas I currently have are too foamy. I need to get one with firm support, just to play.

Ameenderthal: With me the problem is the opposite. I can play slightly more comfortably when my left leg is a little raised. I place a small pillow under my left knee to accomplish this.

Thanks again to everybody!

fbidris
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #15 
Hi Carelton.. sounds good!
Don't sweat about feeling you have to play in the traditional position, it's not important. As long as you can play the notes, you can play the notes

Yes, playing on a sofa without knee support means you have shift the sitar to a steeper angle, and tilt it slightly forward to maintain balance. It takes a bit of practise to adjust to this of style playing, so it won't feel comfortable overnight. But, it can be done and doesn't hinder technique when you get used to it. But this is just really a last resort.

I did some bad damage to my knee last year due to sitting in traditional posture for too long.
So I also had to come up with some creative solutions.

Good luck!!
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