Hey all,

First post here. I'm hoping to get some help. Please forgive the somewhat large amount of info, I just want to give the most information I can to hopefully get the best response, and thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

I've been trying to teach myself guitar for the last year about. Got more serious about it in the last 6 months or so. I've been interested for a while but could never afford to take lessons, so I've been using videos/online courses to teach myself.

Things had been going well until recently when I've started to notice some arm pain in my right (strumming) arm, starting off lightly and getting progressively worse over maybe the last couple weeks. To preface this info, let me also say that I work a 40hr/week job in computers and my mousing arm will occasionally develop some pain as well, which I attribute to poor ergonomics. I'm also trying to correct this problem as well, but let me get to the info regarding guitar.

This pain mostly only occurs while playing acoustic and is worse while seated than when standing, but occurs either way. I am a 5'8" man of average proportion.

Until this pain began, I had been holding the guitar in a way that I now suspect was incorrect, and might have been the source of some of this pain. Since I hadn't ever taken lessons before, I was holding the guitar the first way I thought of and that was to have the neck and body pretty much completely parallel to my hips and squared shoulders (if viewed from above). I since have done some searching about guitar posture and now believe that I should have been holding it so that the neck and body should have been angling slightly outward from by body towards my toes, at an angle of about 25-45 degrees (again, as if viewed from above). This simple, yet correction needing oversight is something that I'm surprised does not come up more often in "Starting Playing" guides/videos/books. When looking for info on this I was wishing I could find a few simple illustrations from above/side/front of the correct way.

If viewed from the front, I believe I was and still am holding the guitar at the correct angle. Nearly parallel with the floor or angled slightly upwards. I was also doing a bit of hunching which I am working on fixing.

The pain that I experience is a little hard to explain. It doesn't just feel like a sore muscle. It kinda feels like I'm tweaking a nerve or tendon. I get lingering pain in a lot of my right arm. I get a feeling like I've been compressing stuff inside my arm. All the videos I watch (I've searched quite a few to try to find out why I'm getting this pain) about posture and holding the guitar seem to say to rest the strumming arm on the rear bought of the guitar. But when I do that, I feel like there's too much weight resting on that relatively small area of wood and it's giving me pain.

I have a dreadnaught size acoustic (Epiphone Hummingbird Pro), and using this guitar gives me the most of this pain, seated worse than standing.

I also have a parlor size acoustic (Gretsch Jim Dandy) at work, and using this gives me slightly less pain that the dreadnaught, but not by much at all. Again, seated is worse than standing.

I also have an electric guitar (some no name junk), and using this reduces the pain by quite a bit. So much so that I wish I might be able to just switch to this guitar and try and work on my technique from there.

However, I very much prefer the sound and feel of acoustic (beyond the strumming arm pain of course). Is it possible that the guitar(s) I have are too large? I don't see how that's possible when I'm even getting that feeling from my parlor size. What else could be going on here? I love practicing and playing, but this is getting to the point where I won't be able to play anymore and need to take an extended break. It shouldn't be this hard to find the right posture should it? Whaz goin onnn?
I'm no expert on ergonomics or the human anatomy, but if you were doing anything wrong, you seem to have fixed it now, so it may just be a case of giving it a break for a while and resting that arm.
Also, you haven't said what part of your arm it is that hurts. If it's the elbow, some kind of compression bandage may help.
Just my two pieces o'eight.
Rest is always one of the best answers. Take a few weeks off from guitar.

Try to alleviate the pain from the computer somehow.

Most likely you have an overuse injury.
Thanks for the replies! Looks like I'll be having to take a break for a while here, hopefully not too long.

@Corrosion: I forgot to explain that in the body of the post. I'm actually getting pain in most of my arm. Upper Arm, Forearm, and Wrist. Shoulder is really the only area I'm not getting some sort of pain. I'm not sure if I have anything fixed yet, doing all I can to ensure my posture is correct now whenever I'm playing, to see if that were the cause. But even when I put my body in what (from what I can gather) is the most suggested correct posture for a casual seated playing, I'm getting some pretty bad "compression" feeling pain where my arm contacts the guitar. The pain then feels like it travles down from those areas do my wrist, and sometimes into the fingers.

I've tried positioning myself so that the guitar comes in contact with the upper-forearm, and also so that it comes in contact with the lower area of my upper arm, and neither way seems any more comfortable than the other. I really get the feeling that somehow theres too much weight on the guitar, even when there's barely any pressure going on that I'm aware of.

@Scratcher: Thanks for the video, some interesting stuff in there. The bits toward the end where he was talking about an RSI seem a lot like what's going on with me. I must have had some bad posture going on at work recently or something combined with some extra strain.

@Virgman: Yeah, seems like that's what it's gonna come down to unfortunately. I got a more ergonomic mouse for work (ever hear of a Vertical mouse? I'll try anything at this point), so hopefully that helps out.

Thanks again all, and if anyone has any more info or personal experience with something like this, let me know!
Well, I don't own an acoustic guitar so I can't tell you how to play it, but since the body of an acoustic guitar is specially big, I would say that it sounds smart to actually separate the guitar a little bit from your body as you already described so your strumming arm doesn't tense, but not too much as I guess it will tense your fretting hand upper arm instead.
Try to rest your right forearm by laying it on the guitar, and always remember to move your wrist loosely, whitout any tension, instead of moving your forearm when picking or strumming.
The last thing: most beginners tend to curve too much towards the fret in order to see their fingers to place them correctly. Try to avoid that, so your strumming arm is closer to your body and not the other way around.
Last edited by Orientation at Mar 1, 2015,
Another thing is that when you return to guitar, take it easy. Just play a little bit.

Over time you can increase your time spent playing but gradually. Not 3 hours the first day. Maybe 10 minutes a day the first week.

Then 15 minutes, etc.
Maybe u should take a few lessons maybe your doing something wrong or check on u tube for videos and see if your holding your arm right.
Yeah the pain can occur in this case. But if it is not getting treated by medicines and exercising then I would recommend you to try the acupuncture at the acupuncture meadowvale clinic. I am sure your pain would get relieved with acupuncture therapy.