Taking Care of Your Hands: Part IV
Preventing Splits, Cuts, and Blisters:
Let’s move on to the skin. It is a touchy subject, but I think we can handle it smoothly. (That was fun. Love to hear the reader groan like that…)
Keep your fingernails neatly trimmed.
This will really prevent any splitting or cracking on your fingertips, not to mention greatly reduce damage to your cuticles and fingernail-beds.
Hangnails are a drummer’s bane.
Keep the nails short, and round the corners just a bit. File them to keep the edges blunt, not sharp. If you have thin fingernails don’t hesitate to use a finger polish gloss to strengthen them, it really helps.
Keep your hands clean.
Wash your hands before, and after, you drum. Each time.
It will not only decrease the wear and tear on your skin, but it also will increase the lifetime of your drum heads. And, by not getting so much dirt and oil on the drum to begin with it will improve the tone of your drum. And no, I am not joking even a little bit. Clean matters.
Slather your hands with a good skin lotion after each and every practice and performance. Smooth, supply skin is far less likely to tear and crack.
Use cloth tape.
If you know that you have a long set to play you can make use of cloth tape. The tape used for sports wrapping and bandages is ideal. It cuts down on friction, puts one more layer between the drum and your hand, supports the muscles and ligaments of your finger and even serves as a reminder for proper technique and hand position.
For every reason a professional athlete tapes up, the same reasons apply to drummers.
Take a break.
If you are developing a lot of redness, or soreness, or have a blister or cut, then stop playing. Tend to it. Use a bandage, tape it up, or put on some extra lotion.
This is especially true when you are in practice or rehearsal. During a live performance, in front of an audience and with other players or dancers then I can understand “toughing it out”, but even then, the moment you are off stage or between sets get it taken care of.
I keep small bottles of lotion and hand cleanser in my drum bag, along with a nail file, nail clippers, a couple of small band-aids and a roll of cloth tape. Drummers need first aid too, from time to time. Keep yours handy, just in case. The one time you use it, or have it for someone else to use, you suddenly look like a big time professional.