I am a vocalist and a guitarist, but I suffer from wrist problems, so if I want to ever heal from them, I have got to play music for a while without using my hands too much (as long as there is no hand strength or strong grip required, it's fine). Examples I've found for instruments which follow the criteria are: Harmonica, recorder, slide-whistle, kazoo and theremin. I am unsure if an electronic unweighted keyboard would also match the criteria.

So my question is: Which instruments could I play that would match the previously said criteria?

3 Answers 3


I would be cautious of any instrument that requires finger action, such as the recorder or keyboards. Finger movements are controlled by tendons that go through the wrist and connect to muscles in the forearm.

Some instruments require the wrist to be in a "fixed" position, which means that two sets of opposing muscles are constantly working "against each other" to maintain that position. You have to learn how to minimize those opposing forces.

Other instruments (like keyboards) require constant bending of the wrist, both side-to-side and up-and-down.

Beginners playing keyboard instruments often get "wrist ache" in the early stages of learning, without any medical conditions to aggravate it. It takes time to build up the wrist strength to play continuously for an extended period of time without a break (i.e. more than 2 or 3 minutes).

Also, some unweighted keyboards may require a heavier key force than weighted ones. "Unweighted" simply means the key weight is constant, not that it is light. Cheap unweighted keyboards are often "heavy," partly because the heavier mechanical parts can be made stronger to withstand abuse, and partly because it's easier for beginners to avoid pressing more keys than they intend to when they don't "aim straight," if the keys require more force to press them.

See http://eorthopod.com/wrist-anatomy/


well, i only know piano well. but i'd think it'd be similar for all instruments.

the point is to play as relaaaxed as possible. you know how yoga people shake out the stress and try to get as loose as possible? that floppiness is how you should be playing your instrument. you should only be using the least amount of muscles possible to make the key go down, plug the hole, hold the fret, whatever.

using extra muscles is a waste and will often (especially with piano) give you serious pain issues over time.

during practice, always take a moment, say halfway through a short loop of the song that you're practicing and feeeel if you're playing as loose and stress free as possible.

you can play for long periods of time, even on piano, ooonly if you're playing loose, floppy, lightly, and relaxed. Stress in your jaw and muscles not even related to playing will cause you issued with playing, too.

So don't "strength train". Do "relax train".


If you play guitar already you might try using a slide and tuning the guitar to an open tuning. This way you can still play chords and use picking patterns. This mainly works with steel string guitars. The action of the guitar can't be too low also or else you get interference from the fret if you push down with the slide. You buy guitars that are set up to be slide guitars as well.

You could also try a lap steel guitar, but I would be careful about your posture and the position of your hands and wrists while playing. With any instrument, it's not only the gripping but the posture of your body from your back to shoulders to arms and of course your wrists.

I guess part the issue is what type of music you would like to play as well.

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