Sore Hands From Playing Djembe? How To Soothe Them

Sore Hands From Djembe

Beginners often say th​ey get sore hands from playing the djembe​. ​​In fact, even experienced players can experience pain after playing​. It's ​quite common. 

​In more extreme cases you may ​notice bruised hands, small black spots ​on the palm of the hand (these are burst blood vessels)​, cracks in the skin ​and even bleeding.

​In general, use a little moisturizer​ to soothe and repair hands before and after playing. You will eventually develop callouses that will protect your hands and the tips of your fingers.

​Be nice to your hands​. ​Here's our ​djembe ​hand​ regiment​ - recommended hand care treatments for djembe players.

Sore Hands

Step 1: Epsom Salts

If your hands are sore after a session, prepare a bowl of warm, very salty water. A better idea is Epso​m salts, like these on the right.

Soak your hands in the water for 10 minutes or ​more.

What Does A Warm Water and Salt Soak Do?

The warm water will help your circulation and ​reduce ​bruising. The salt draws the ​fluid in your skin out of your pores and reduces swelling.

​Step 2: Shea Butter

When done, dry your hands and ​rub in some ​shea butter. ​

​We recommend this​:

Then give your hands a break!

Split Skin on Fingers

Split skin can happen when ​playing hard with dried out fingers. If the skin on your fingers splits, as can happen after a particularly long drumming session, start by cleaning the wound.

Then scrub it with a clean pumice stone such as the one below to remove any dead skin.

​Once ​your hands are a bit softer, rub in some shea butter​. Make sure your hands are dry afterwards.

Then use a medical paper tape such as Micropore. I prefer this to regular ​sticky fabric plaster tape because it keeps your fingers ​from gettng moisture logged under the tape. 

​However, that wouldn't suit you if your hands tend to be more sweaty. ​In that case, I would use the non stretch ​athletic tape below.

​Don't wrap the fingers too tight. T​hen give your hands a rest until the wound heals.

​Tips for Easier Playing

  • Remove rings, watch and jewellery before playing.
  • Some tenderness of the hands is to be expected in beginners, but rest if playing becomes overly painful.
  • Before playing, ​apply shea butter to your hands.
  • If you require more protection, wrap ​​tape around the tips of the fingers before you play​. This will absorb some of the impact​ and can also prevent them from drying out​.
  • Drink water! Keep yourself hydrated to assist the kidneys in repairing damage to the hands.
  • Regular short sessions, rather than infrequent and long ones are better for the hands.
  • ​Discomfort should ease within a few ​sessions of regular playing as the hands become accustomed.

​This is not medical advice. See your doctor ​if you have concerns.


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