Lip injury?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by isuckattrumpet, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. isuckattrumpet

    isuckattrumpet Pianissimo User

    Oct 30, 2013
    God Bless America
    Hi everyone
    Since the beginning of this school year I have been playing 1st part 90% of the time. I am also first trumpet in jazz band, and as you may know, lead jazz music can be painfully high. I used to apply a ton of unnecessary pressure to squeeze out high notes, but lately I have been trying to change and relax my embouchure a little bite and have had a lot of success. I'm getting used to playing high without pressing my lips/teeth against the mouthpiece and it feels great when I can do it!. But every once in a while I totally forget about doing that and go back to my old ways. So today I went back pushing my lips really hard against the mouthpiece and in turn my teeth pressed hard against the inside of my lips. Now there are some indents in my mouth and there is one part where it feels like its cut, and it hurts a little bit. When I tried practicing today after coming home from a jazz rehearsal it hurt too much so I had to stop. Any advice on what I should do? I have had indents in my mouth before but in those cases I could still play, and if I took it easy for a day my lips would go back to normal. But this time it has me worried; I have read stories about trumpet players injuring their lips and having to quit playing for very long periods of time, and never being able to play normally again!
  2. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    What you've read about is Focal Dystonia, and yes, it exists, and yes, quite a few trumpet players have suffered it, and yes, quite a few actually lost their playing jobs through FD. My advice: Keep your playing balanced (i.e. do low notes, long notes, pedal notes quite often, even in playing intervals, and, most important:
    When your lip is hurting, don't practice too hard. Let your lip get back to it's normal state before continuing - even if that means missing a day's practice or so. A friend of mine (principal trumpet at Munich State Opera) even said that every two weeks, he puts in a weekend without a trumpet, and during his annual holidays, he never touches a hooter. I would not be as radical as him - but his method has lots to recommend it.

    Once again: FD exists, and it's always waiting to pounce, right round the corner. And you don't know where the corner is...
  3. JuJu Horn

    JuJu Horn New Friend

    Jul 25, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    mystery to mastery - check it out
    This is a really great approach to non pressure playing. Well documented and set out for all levels.
    Do this for 12 months and no FD. You will also gain flexibility, sound choices and security up high.

    Lastly don't over practice. Practicing after a heavy rehearsal or performance is going to create problems not fix it. Short practice sessions focused and often is the way to go.
  4. And3

    And3 Pianissimo User

    Oct 7, 2013
    East Sussex, UK
    Being a dentist I feel I should add my bit to this thread. As on this occasion you admit to playing with too much pressure and following this it hurt to play it is more likely that you have caused a localised trauma from the teeth pressing on the lips. I wouldn't get too worried about FD at this stage, just give yourself a couple of days off playing or only very light pressure playing and I'm sure things will get back to normal. Longer term, however, retraining yourself to play with less pressure will only benefit you. Lots of pedal note practice and lip slurs will build the flexibility in your lip muscles which will mean less physical pressure on the mouthpiece when you want to get those high notes.
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    To the original poster, I'm going to keep this simple: rest. As best as you can, you need to give your chops a chance to heal. That's the short answer.

    To add a bit more detail, you aren't the first, nor will you be the last person to injure their chops using pressure. I've been gigging for over 25 years, and I STILL come away from some gigs (depending on how long we play and what songs are called) feeling a bit beat up. The trick has always been to let things heal a day or so before getting back on the horn if I can. Sometimes I can't and I have to just suck it up and drive on.

    Others have suggested working to use less pressure, and you've already come to that on your own, so that's good, but for me, pressure has always been a part of the game to a certain degree, and it's a constant struggle for me to work to keep my chops more optimized so that I don't have to use as much pressure.

    Good luck and keep us posted on how it's going.
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Rest, message and ice. Rest at this point is most important. Message to get blood flow back to the muscle fiber, and ice if there is still swelling to bring down the swelling.

    When athletes sprain muscle we tell them to use RICE therapy. R-est, I-ce, C-ompression, E-levation. The head is already above the heart so elevation is not necessary, and as far as I know an ACE-wrap has yet to be invented for the lip (albiet I would like to study this idea using Kingtrumpet as a research volunteer). So we are left with Rest, Ice. I add message as I find this works well in rehabilitation of muscle damage and soft tissue trauma which is what you are describing here.
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I disagree with ice - a cold compress, yes, but not ice - actual ice on the chops can be a bit too much because it's a bit too cold, but that's just my opinion on it. It's been rare that I have felt the need to actually use a cold compress - I mostly just let rest take care of it.
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Don't disagree with ice, it works well if used wisely. I use it often when playing 4 hour gigs to keep the edema down and it allows me to play fresh and relaxed. Wise use means not to hold it in one place for more than a few seconds. In fact the cube should be messaged along the lip at a constant rate. This is done until a little numbness is noted, not burn. Stop after numbness is noted. This will usually be noted under twenty seconds. Then wait a minute and do a second message if still needed. In my quintet, to make it though 4 hours, this is a very safe, required and time honored therapy.

    Actually, I use ice message routinely on the athletes I treat sustaining acute injury. It works well, and in most cases if used right.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I have to say that I hadn't thought of using ice like that. As I continue to age, and my chops become less resiliant to the abuse that I give them on gig nights, that might be something worth trying as a means to get them to come back around. These days, if I have a Saturday night gig and it's a real pound-face kind of night, I'm pretty much worthless on Sunday. If I had to gig back to back I could, but it wouldn't be pleasant. Anymore I usually leave the horn in the case until Monday, but judicious use of ice might help speed the recovery a bit.
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    A good exercise from John Glasel for reducing pressure:

    Play a long tone, and while doing so reduce pressure; it will start to sound "bad." With this same pressure, do whatever it takes with the chops to make it sound "better" (not perfect or normal). In a short time you should notice some muscles being worked (a big ring or circle around the mouth.)

    This will allow us to train some muscles that don't normally get worked; when somewhat in shape it should require somewhat less pressure to play.

    As to mouthpieces, the biggest killer for those of us who use pressure is the bite of the rim. Many Bach mouthpieces have a sharp bite, which can help the cleanliness of our attack, but act like a cookie-cutter on our lips when we press. A flatter yet rounder rim will allow more pressure with less pain. Hope this helps!

    Good luck!

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