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Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing (Read 454 times)

Offline c_minor

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Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
« on: January 12, 2020, 06:35:10 AM »
Hi everyone,

I noticed that my left pinky's middle joint would sometimes collapse when playing. It seems to make clean octave playing and speeding up impossible. I tried taping the joint to keep the finger curved, but it only stays fixed for a while and then the tape would come loose after some playing. I did notice though that I could play faster and my octaves were cleaner, so it must be the problem. I tried aligning my arm with the pinky, but it still collapses sometimes. I have no idea why my left pinky collapses; my right pinky does not have that problem.

Aside from taping the joint, does anyone have ideas for keeping my pinky's middle joint from collapsing? Maybe some kind of curved splint that I could place under my finger? Thanks for any ideas.

Offline outin

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Re: Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
«Reply #1 on: January 12, 2020, 08:16:17 AM »
Your joint is hypermobile, that's why it collapses. I have the same problem with several finger joints. The only way for me to stop the collapse is to align the finger well (even if I have to rely on the pedal more instead of pure finger legato) and not put too much pressure on the finger so that it can stay curved. If possible I use the 4th as extra support for the pinky. I have small hands and with large stretches I often just have to let the joints collapse, there's no way around it. I think worrying about it less has improved my playing although anatomical issues limit the repertoire I can play.

I doubt any sort of mechanical aid would really work in palying, it would limit the natural movements. However, if you find such a solution I would be glad to know :)

Online brogers70

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Re: Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
«Reply #2 on: January 12, 2020, 12:42:13 PM »
I have the same problem, and it is a nuisance both on the piano and on the viola (though moreso on the viola).  Both my piano and viola teachers gave me some suggestions.

From the piano teacher: Get you hand in playing position. Settle onto a note with the pinky. Release only as much of the arm weight as your pinky can support without collapsing that knuckle. Do that for a few minutes every day, trying to gradually increase the amount of arm weight the pinky can support without collapsing. Then do some scale-like exercises that use the pinky, say CDEFGABC, DEFGABCD, EFGABCDE, etc using no more arm weight than you've trained the pinky to support, and doing them slowly.

These did help a bit, for sure.

From the viola teacher: this was much more mechanical. She had me squeeze a tennis ball with my fingers arched - eventually I got a thing called a gripmaster which is just a mechanical version with four padded blocks on springs that you compress with your fingers. Just do that a few minutes a day while you're doing something else. It's not Olympic weight training, no need to overdo it.

This helped a lot. My left hand position on the viola got much better, and the pinky collapsed much less while playing the piano.

It's true that none of this changes the hypermobility of the joints. That's just something you're stuck with. But it trains your brain how to adjust the tension in the relevant tendons so that you can hold the position you want without collapsing that knuckle as much. When I started working on it I really thought it was not the sort of problem that exercise could help with, but it did seem to help.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
«Reply #3 on: January 12, 2020, 04:06:30 PM »
It would be an idea to experiment playing with the pinky on its own all over the place and see if you can actually keep it "uncollapsed". Maybe experiment with what volumes cause the collapse, if it occurs even with something as light as pppp then I think you are in a tough situation. You can extend experimentation with the pinky by adding intervals with it with various fingers and see whats occuring depending on what you do. That at least will give you some insight into your situation and any future improvement can be seen from these also improving.
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Offline c_minor

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Re: Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
«Reply #4 on: January 13, 2020, 08:00:53 AM »
Thank you everyone for your advice.

outin,
I found a splint online called Oval-8. Apparently it can help with "swan neck deformity", which seems to be the problem I'm having right now. I already ordered a pack. Will let you know how it goes in a few weeks.

brogers70,
Do you remember how long it took you to see the benefits of the exercises you mentioned? My teacher's currently teaching me Mozart's K. 282 Sonata and Moszkowski's Etude Op. 72 No. 4, but I feel that they're not manageable for me right now (having issues with speed and the repeated chords because of the pinky). I'm thinking of studying simpler pieces and revisiting Hanon for now to concentrate on my pinky.

lostinidlewonder,
I can keep my pinky uncollapsed, but I can't do it reliably so I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing right in those instances. My guesses are (based from observation): pinky curled inward more and slanted away from the thumb side; however, it is harder to play in this position. I also noticed that if I manage to play with my pinky uncollapsed, it can still collapse if my hand moves even a little. I tried replicating it in the other hand, but I can't do it.

Online brogers70

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Re: Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
«Reply #5 on: January 13, 2020, 12:52:13 PM »
Thank you everyone for your advice.

brogers70,
Do you remember how long it took you to see the benefits of the exercises you mentioned? My teacher's currently teaching me Mozart's K. 282 Sonata and Moszkowski's Etude Op. 72 No. 4, but I feel that they're not manageable for me right now (having issues with speed and the repeated chords because of the pinky). I'm thinking of studying simpler pieces and revisiting Hanon for now to concentrate on my pinky.

It took a few weeks, I don't remember exactly how long, but it was relatively quick.

Offline outin

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Re: Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
«Reply #6 on: January 13, 2020, 07:42:36 PM »
Swan neck deformity is not the same as collapsing joints due to hypermobility. It may look the same in pictures, but it's a medical condition where mobility is reduced. Hypermobility is just a trait, although it can be a hindrance in some activities.

Offline sitbon09

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Re: Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
«Reply #7 on: January 18, 2020, 02:59:29 AM »
Some things to consider based on my own perspective...

Are you sitting high enough so your forearm slopes slightly down to support your wrist and hand? Do you feel the support of the forearm behind the whole hand playing octaves? 

Ensure you donít collapse the 5th knuckle and use the palm muscle for support if needed.

Keep the wrist in itís natural mid range of movement.

Cheers

Sitbon


Offline c_minor

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Re: Ideas for keeping the middle pinky joint from collapsing
«Reply #8 on: February 06, 2020, 05:17:07 AM »
Hi outin, thought I'd report on the oval 8 splints I ordered. I wore the splint such that one end is just before the collapsing joint (the PIP joint in my case; see picture attached), and it seems to help. My pinky doesn't seem to be restricted with its movement. The only problem I encountered so far is that my finger slips off black keys when the splint hits the key (though it might be a fault with my technique? My fingers tend to flatten when reaching far keys). Anyway, I'll see if there's a way to shorten the splint.