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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 04-20-2017, 03:48 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2017
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Default Piping injury - abdominal pain

Hello all!

I am a new member to this forum and I am in need of some advice. I am new to piping (less than a year) and have enjoyed every minute of it since I started last year. I am 29 years old and I am from Scotland, however I live down near London now. I have a piping injury I would like to discuss. I hope someone can help.

Everything was going great and I was progressing incredibly well on the pipes until about 2 months ago. I was given a new reed by my PM as my first reed was coming to the end of its life. This was the first time I have had to break-in a new reed, and initially I was quite shocked at how difficult it was to even get the reed to make a sound.
To cut a long story short, I went for it big time! I spend about 30 minutes going full throttle on the pipes, barely getting any sound for more than 20 seconds before I would have to stop and take a breathe. It was ridiculously difficult, but since this was the first time I've had to do this, I though it was normal!! After speaking to a few other pipers, they said this didn't sound normal.. a reed shouldn't be that hard to play. I think I was a little na´ve.
After that session I felt a little aching in my lower abbs/groin. Nothing that bothered me at all until the next day when I went to play again and I felt really fragile after only a few minutes playing. This is when I started to get concerned.

I gave it a few days rest, but the pain came back as soon as I blew up the bag and got the chanter going. I then gave it a few more days, then 1 full week, then I gave it 4 weeks, but the same things keeps happening. Only after 1 month I think I got two 5 minutes sessions in before the pain came back.

When I say "pain" I mean more of a fragile, uncomfortable feeling. It doesn't hurt, it just feels like something shifts or strains in my groin. After looking online I was convinced I had a hernia as it feels like something aches when I tense up and blow. I've been to see 3 doctors who have had a feel and none of them can see any evidence of a hernia. I would love to say it was a sigh of relief, but now its more of an unknown. Could it be the early stages of a hernia where I feel pain but nothing is actually protruding out?

So now I am kind of stuck in this situation where I can't play the pipes, and I have no idea what is wrong with me. I've been off the pipes for nearly 2 months and its seriously bugging my happiness.

If anyone has had anything similar to this, or if anyone has any advice It would be greatly appreciated.


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Old 04-20-2017, 04:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Piping injury

Sorry to hear this. Have you tried an easier reed and see if you still feel the ache? Borrow one from your piper friends.
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Old 04-20-2017, 04:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Piping injury

You might have bruised your diaphragm. Happened to me once when I was giving extra strong blasts of air to test a pipe bag I'd just tied in.
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Old 04-20-2017, 06:39 AM   #4
el gaitero
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Default Re: Piping injury

Get a new and improved instructor.
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Old 04-20-2017, 08:00 AM   #5
Jeffrey B.
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Default Re: Piping injury

This is the biggest beef I have with a lot of instructors, is the belief that reeds have to be gut busting. This does more harm to beginners than anything else. If you were ten years old I bet you wouldn't have gotten that reed. Pipe teachers should first teach the basics of setting up the pipes to play as efficient and as easy as they know how, but from what I've observed a lot of teacher don't know how! Pipe reeds should be a work out but you should be able to play it, if you can't, stop, and learn how to adjust it, you will be farther ahead and you will enjoy it more.
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Old 04-20-2017, 08:19 AM   #6
Kenton Adler
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Default Re: Piping injury

NO reason a reed should be that difficult. Get an easier reed for starters.

Might you have a minor hernia in addition to the difficult reed? It's possible that the injury was not caused by the blowing, only made noticeable when you're playing the gut-buster.

Kenton Adler

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Old 04-20-2017, 12:58 PM   #7
Neal Hinerman
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Default Re: Piping injury - abdominal pain

You should get checked for an inguinal hernia, again. But bring the pipes with you, and have the doctor check whilst you play. You might not be generating enough pressure for the normal feel to detect the issue.

And give back the gut-buster reed. Nothing kills the joy of piping faster than a reed you can't blow.
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Old 04-22-2017, 11:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: Piping injury - abdominal pain

I'm not sure how to help, but you have my sincerest and most heart-felt sympathy... Sounds terrible... Maybe sick to your chanter for a bit to let it rest and heal... Don't give up on pipes, of course, but... Well, just- sorry man.
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Old 04-22-2017, 08:39 PM   #9
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Default Re: Piping injury - abdominal pain

Originally Posted by Neal Hinerman View Post
You should get checked for an inguinal hernia, again. But bring the pipes with you, and have the doctor check whilst you play. You might not be generating enough pressure for the normal feel to detect the issue.

Greetings, Scotty,

My heart-felt sympathies are extended to you... as you are
in a rather difficult situation... and with few readily apparent
good choices... anywhere in view. :(

Far away medical advice... and sight unseen... is seldom a
good idea... but... and that notwithstanding... I have quoted
Neal above... as his is a rather valid idea... at least for a start.

An inguinal... and especially in its initial stages... can be a bit
difficult to detect.

Exhibiting the activity that always seems precede the onset of
your pain may well prove an excellent diagnostic tool for your

... But... he (or she)... may be just a bit reticent... about your
pipes being played... in their surgery... and especially if there
is a waiting room full not-well people (presuming that's why
they are there)... So best to ask... and arrange it properly. :)

And though I know neither your age nor your physical condition...
the odds that your piping caused... an inguinal hernia... are not
likely. (And that is if... that's what it is... which at this point is still
rather questionable.)

And... meanwhile... it could well be... something as simple as a
pulled groin muscle... which can cause acute pain... and from all
sorts of seemingly un-related activities. (These are acquired from
many often quite ordinary activities... such as suddenly having to
jump back on to a sidewalk... to avoid a hurtling vehicle.)

Mainly... and to the point... if doing something hurts... don't do it. :)

Go see your physician... and get it all properly sorted... :) and you
will then be comfort... and time (and that's playing time)... ahead.

One of... if not the ... main difficulties... for active people... is the
proper time... that productive rehabilitation requires... as it's always
a tough go... to do less...so that they can do more... at some point
down the road... which always seems... forever away... (Sigh...)

Meanwhile... you might consider restricting yourself to the practice
chanter... but only if that doesn't cause you any discomfort... until
you have a definitive (and ironclad) diagnosis.

Do go see your physician(s) forthwith... and do please let us know
how it all goes...

Wishing for you only...

All the Best!!


A Quick Post Script:

And a warm welcome to the Forum!!

You'll find lots 'n lots of good folk here :) ... and lots 'n lots of good and
thoughtful advice... and on a remarkably wide range of piping matters.
(Though as known of old... six pipers will get you... a dozen opinions!! :)

Welcome Aboard!! :)

My friends all know,
With what a brave carouse...

Last edited by Pip01; 04-22-2017 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 04-23-2017, 01:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: Piping injury - abdominal pain

El Gaitero, Kenton and Jeffrey B have it 100% right. A reed should never be that strong especially for a newcomer whose body hasn't got "match fit". Get a weaker reed and then see how it feels.

This sounds like it might be an inguinal hernia that I have come across in one or two other pipers. Ask your doctor to consider that specifically.
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