I've been learning to play some west African rhythms for about 10 months now with a great teacher from Ivory Coast, Samba Diallo. And, to say the least, its intense!
The weekly lesson begins at the end of my 13 hour day and often times I’m exhausted before the drumming starts. But once it does, the sound and feel of the djembe change my mood and play as best I can. There isn’t a single practice that I leave without sore hands.
Some soreness and/or tenderness should be expected after drumming for a couple of hours. And, developing calloused palms may seem like a worthy testament to djembe love but there are ways to protect yourself from possible injury and skin trauma. I’ve needed to develop a regimen for before and after playing to prevent injuring my palms and fingers.
Here are a few things I’ve worked out so far to prevent injury.
1. Shea Butter is a miracle worker! Moisturize hands with pure organic shea butter before playing. Having moist hands will prevent them from hurting as much and help you play even better. The shea butter will also protect the skin on your drum head.
2. Drink water!! Staying hydrated will help your kidneys heal your hands and maintain good skin health.
3. Getting used to playing helps but avoid the thinking that pain is gain. Don’t be afraid to take a break and rest if striking the drum becomes painful.
4. Use tape on your fingertips to protect them from the impact and keep your skin from getting too dry.
5. Soak your hands in dead sea salt after playing to improve circulation. The dead sea salt will also pull salt from your pores and prevent your hands and fingers from swelling.
6. Again, Shea Butter is a miracle worker! After you play, moisturize hands with shea butter. Your drum head will also benefit from a little shea butter application between sessions.
Try these to find relief from a blister or split the skin on your palms and fingers.
1. Soak your hands in warm, soapy water. Raw Shea Butter Soap or Oatmeal soap work great due to their anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Follow up with a disinfectant or an antibiotic ointment that will lower risk of infection.
2. Apply generous amounts of shea butter to your hands. Shea butter is a massage enhancer and a muscle relaxer. It also promotes skin elasticity and speeds healing time for cuts and scars.
3. The next time you play, use medical tape or stretchy athletic tape to protect the affected areas of your hands or palms from the impact.
4. See a doctor for medical advice if you have serious concerns. I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice but tips from personal experience.
If you're in the Atlanta/Marietta area, join us for Afro-fit! African Dance lessons with Samba Diallo Monday nights from 7:30 at the Dance and Fitness Studio, 1644 Atlanta Rd, Marietta GA. Djembe lesson starts at 8:30 immediately after the dance lesson ends.