Guitar Techniques that Prevents Injury

I spend a lot of time watching musicians play music. Because I’m a guitar player, I tend to watch other guitar players more closely. I watch videos online, I see live performances, I teach, and play with other musicians. I have noticed a few things that guitar player’s do that will eventually hurt them. It is not uncommon to have wrist, back, shoulder, or neck problems because of the guitar. Here are a few techniques that prevent injury.

  • Use proper posture.

Wrist: It is important to keep your wrist straight. I have seen a lot of guitarists and bassists with bent wrists. This is a common reason for wrist pain and fixing this will protect you from creating wrist problems. Sometimes you may need to bend your wrist a little bit, but what causes the problem is having a bent wrist for an extended period of time. Keep this from becoming a habit.

Back: Sit straight when you play. Sometimes it is tempting to slouch, but this can cause back pain. When you are standing make sure you are not leaning forward, this can cause back pain as well.

  • Stretch

Stretching your hands, arms and shoulders are a great routine to get into before you play. This can prevent injury as well as help you reach really stretchy chords. Before a gig it can feel good to do a whole body stretching routine.

  • Don’t overplay

A common reason for injury is over playing. I suggest that you make it a habit to take breaks during your practice session. If you feel any pain while playing you should stop immediately and rest. It is better to lose 5 minutes of practice than to deal with an injury for the next 2 months.

  • Overall Health

It is important to be healthy. Work out and eat well and your body will resist injury better. You guitar may not feel as heavy; you won’t get tired throughout the gig as much. Overall health can also make you mentally sharper which will help you play better.

Try these tips and you will be much less likely to get injured while playing guitar. All of these solutions are fairly simple and are easy to incorporate into your playing routine. Just start trying it and see how it works for you.

Notice: If you are already experiencing pain, although these techniques may help alleviate the pain I do suggest you visit your doctor for any necessary treatment.

Guitar exercise that will help your guitar stretching

Are you trying to play a chord that you just can’t quite reach? Does stretching up 5 frets while playing a scale feel awkward to you? There are exercises that can help you build up your flexibility on the guitar. There are many different exercises to help with flexibility, but in this lesson I am going to show you one that I like to use. With this exercise you will find those hard to play chords get easier.

Before we begin I want to warn you against pushing yourself too hard. You want to get a stretch, and when you are done with this your fingers may be a bit tired. What you do not want is pain. If you stretch too hard you should stop to prevent injury. Just like stretching any other part of your body, you should not push yourself too far. You may not be able to complete this exercise at first, but with some patience you will be able to. The First step is to put your fingers in the starting position.

guitar exercise position 1.

Guitar exercise shape 1 with the pinky on the D string.

 

guitar exercise position 2

Guitar exercise shape 2 with the pinky on the high E string.

There are 2 of these positions you can start in. The concept works the same way in both, and I suggest you practice both positions for the best results. In both positions the pinky will start on the 12th fret. In position 1 the pinky is on the D string, in position 2 the pinky is on the high E string. Now that you are in the starting position and ready to stretch let me explain how this works.

Hold all the notes down and strum them 1 by 1 to make sure they are not muffled. Move your first (index) finger down 1 fret and strum the strings again. If all the strings are played perfectly you can move your middle finger down 1 fret. The middle finger and index finger are now sitting next to each other. Make sure every note is played and not muffled. If all the strings in the shape are played you can now move your third finger down a fret. Repeat the strumming process. Finally you move your pinky down one fret and you will be in the exact same position that you started in.

How this works is that as you move down the fret board, the frets get wider. This will create more tension in your fingers which causes the stretching. By the time you get all the way down you will be struggling to make the stretch. It is even harder when you play it on a classical guitar which has even wider frets. So don’t worry, there is always a challenge. The hardest part of this stretch for most people is the stretching between the middle and ring fingers. Make sure you play these notes clearly, especially between these fingers.

This stretching exercise will make your fingers more flexible so that playing stretchy chords or scales that require a stretch you will be prepared and capable of executing them. This also makes a great guitar warm-up. Guitar stretching is important so your fingers are not limited in their abilities. I have attached a video below of me playing this exercise so you can see it being played. I apologize for the poor lighting.