Beginners often say they 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.
Step 1: Epsom Salts
If your hands are sore after a session, prepare a bowl of warm, very salty water. A better idea is Epsom 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:
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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.
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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.
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Don't wrap the fingers too tight. Then 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.