For a new drummer, a blister can be a frequent and frustrating issue.
Drumming blisters are more commonly observed of the soft part of your fingers, inside of the thumb, and anywhere you may experience friction or come in contact with the stick.
Tightly gripping your stick, heavy drumming, and long sessions may cause these blisters more likely to form.
With experience and excellent drumming, technique, blisters are not a frequent occurrence anymore.
Blisters may cause pain and hindrance while playing. They should also be dealt with as the blisters will form to calluses gradually.
So, drumming blisters may an issue while learning to play. Thankfully, with certain measures and a few changes in your technique, you can totally stop the blisters from forming frequently.
Let’s understand how you can do that.
What are Drumming Blisters?
Blisters are pockets of fluid that are formed between the upper layers of your skin. While there are various causes, such as infection and chemicals, for developing a blister, drumming blisters are caused by friction.
These blisters are formed due to stress between the surface of the skin and the stick.
The upper layer of the skin tears due to friction and fluid leaks from the cells to fill up the created gap. This fluid serves two functions.
It enhances the growth and regeneration of the damaged tissues. Secondly, it creates a cushion to protect the underlying tissues from further damage.
The blisters pain when they extend to the deeper layer of your skin, pressing on the nerve endings.
Drumming Blister Causes
As discussed earlier, holding the stick too tightly is the leading cause of drumming blisters. If you hold the stick tightly, friction and heat are produced by sliding of the drumming stick across your skin. The sliding also separates the upper layer of your skin, forming a blister.
You may know the real trouble of getting a blister when you develop one during a live performance. Every note may become torture if you get it in the wrong spot.
Unfortunately, blisters develop at the wrong spot. They develop anywhere your stick might press into your hand.
So, the best way to deal with blisters is to build a loose grip. This will not only prevent blisters but also prevent other types of injury, enabling you to play drums longer and better.
However, it may take time to develop a proper technique. Meanwhile, there are a few things that will help you.
Preventive Measures for Drumming Blisters
Improving Your Grip
We would like to reiterate this as many times as possible, as it is the primary cause of drumming blisters.
While drumming, you should work with your sticks and not against them. Try and improve the natural rebound of the stick and loosen up the grip.
French Grip, American, German, index finger fulcrum, middle finger fulcrum, and traditional grips, all have their own way of striking the drumstick.
You can change your grip to prevent blister. Switching to pinky grip and traditional grip is a better choice because of the way you hold your sticks.
However, while changing grip, don’t continue a style that makes it awkward for you to hold the stick. If you do so, you may have other significant problems.
Wondering how to check your grip?
Try playing on a practice pad or a drum. Now strike it hard with the drumstick. If the stick doesn’t rebound naturally, you may be forcing your arms and hands to absorb the shock.
To sum it up, loosen the grip so that your drumstick will rebound naturally.
Try Drum Gloves
If you are working on loosening your grip, or cannot do so due to sweaty hands, or are a hard hitter, you can consider wearing drum gloves.
Drum gloves may not be for everyone, but if you are getting frequent blisters, gloves may be an excellent option to enjoy drumming.
Having said this, it shouldn’t be your first option to prevent blisters. Try spending some time on loosening the grip.
Meanwhile, you can use them during a live performance or till you master the gripping technique.
If you are planning to buy drumming gloves, you can check our guide for selecting gloves that can be the right buy for you.
Besides a tight grip, blisters may also be caused by excessive force. If you are a hard hitter, try and lower the impact. This may improve your speed and even playing.
So, try and hit less forcefully. Besides, using mikes in a live performance already makes them loud and may not harm to hit them with lesser force.
Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?
Well, the fact is that sandpaper makes the drumstick coarser, reducing its slipperiness. This ultimately will allow you to loosen the grip.
However, be cautious and don’t make it too coarse as it may further increase the friction and develop a blister!
Drum Grip or Tape
If you can’t have a firm grip on your sticks, your grip may tighten naturally. You can use drum grips and tape for the same.
They are not costly and can easily be added to your current drumming sticks.
The tape can be useful even if you have got a blister. Dab a tape above or below the blister, so the stick slides through the tape instead of the blister.
You may not be comfortable using them at first, but gradually you will get used to it and develop a fantastic grip.
Allow Hardening of your Skin
Before you imagine anything let us clear one thing that you need not have highly calloused hands to play drums
However, if you have just started playing, allowing your skin to harden moderately helps you to handle drumming better.
There are various products that can help you to harden your skin, such as surgical spirit and vinegar.
In case you have some painful blisters, practicing drumming without drums or taking a few days off from playing drums is a better option.
After a few days, when you get back to your drums, you should be good to go.
But if you have been playing drums for quite a few months and still get blisters, you can skip this step.
How to Deal with Them?
Allow it to Heal Naturally
The most important advice is not to pop blisters at all. The bubble is a protective layer, and breaking it may encourage infection.
You can cover the blister with a gauze or band-aid to prevent additional trauma while healing.
Besides, if the blister bursts, don’t remove the dead skin covering it.
It’s always a good idea to let the blister fluid drain naturally and when that happens, wash it with soap and water
Those who have got blister anytime may know that blisters burn. This especially happens when you continue to play despite having blisters.
Ice prevents and neutralizes the heat under your skin, reducing further damage.
Hand Chalk or Talcum Powder
They can help in preventing friction and, thus, the formation of a blister. Chalk will also help to get rid of the pain if you continue playing with blisters.
Alternatively, you can also use Vaseline, diaper rash ointment, or other lubricants to manage drumming blisters.
Should drummers have calluses or blister on hands?
New drummers often get blisters on hands while they are developing their technique of drumming. Once they get used to hold their sticks lightly and allow them to rebound naturally, blisters do not occur that frequently. But experienced drummers may develop calluses over a period of time, which helps them to improve their grip.
How to manage to play while having blisters?
You can use sandpaper or tape to prevent injury to the blister while playing. You can also try drumming gloves. Applying ice or powder on the blister helps it to heal faster without pain.
Drumming blisters can be a factor of annoyance and pain, but don’t let it stand in the way of your drumming. You will be glad to know applying simple tips will prevent their recurrence.
A tight grip is the primary cause of blisters while playing drums. So, loosening it while not compromising on your technique is the leading way to prevent blisters.
Holding sticks tightly may not only cause blisters but also other injuries such as tendinitis.
As adapting to a loose grip may take some time, other measures such as gloves and sandpaper may come in handy.
If you have a painful blister, applying ice or talcum powder may come in handy. However, if you notice pus or other signs of infection, it is highly advisable to consult your doctor.
We hope these tips will make a difference and prevent in recurrence of blisters.
So, enjoy pain-free drumming!