So i have been playing guitar for 8 years or so and in the past couple of years I have been struggling to play the guitar for as long as I used to, due having bad pain across my fretting hand and in my wrist, as well as stiffness.

I have put it down to not warming up properly before i play guitar and then generally playing until my hand hurt :/ (and long practices after not playing regularly)
I had a couple of months of from playing when I had my exams about a year and a half ago and when I went back to playing my hand felt a lot better but of course I just stuck to my way of playing and soon my hand was back to the way it was!
Also, I don't have a teacher and I haven't been very disciplined with my playing!

My plan was to have a week or two off from playing until my hand felt better and then slowly get back into playing and trying to build my sessions up,
I was just wondering if anyone has any suggestions for exercises to do to warm up, stretch my hand or maybe how I should get back into playing?

I am nearly (!) 18 so I want to sort this out now before I do too much damage and have to give up guitar and I would like to be playing my guitar regularly and for many years to come!

Thanks in advance
I'd say just keep playing everyday- mainly to get your hands used to guitar again. It doesn't have to be hardcore practice sessions, just pick up the guitar and play till your attention span runs out.

It also might just be bad thumb placement; can't say till we've seen your guitar playing.

If it's real bad pain, there are plenty of posts that cover bad guitar habits and strain. Fix those bad habits now!
"ba doo doo ba doo doo ba doo daa"
- earth,wind, and fire
Definitely establish a warm up routine. If you want to play with any decent speed or good technique in general, you have to put time into it. Even just some scales, chords, and arpeggios will get you in shape. Start slow, stay relaxed, and don't spend much time beyond your limits. When you reach the point that your technique breaks down, back off the tempo and move to something else.

If you post a photo or video of your technique in action we can probably diagnose a more specific issue for you to work on, and there are plenty of online resources for learning correct technique. There are also exercises you can look up just for relaxation, which is likely the problem.

You're still just in your teens, so this is about as good as the problem is going to get. By the time you're 30, playing til your hand hurts can cause long term injury that affects your ability to work and perform normal daily activities. Definitely address the issue now before it becomes a real impediment to playing and enjoying music.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jan 4, 2017,
Hi Meg, your problem is most probably playing with tension in your muscles, including hand muscles but not only. You must re-write your playing technique like I did after almost 20 years of playing with tension. Tense muscles are like bonds which prevent your body from efficient movements. Imagine you go for a 2 hrs walk with your feet tied - would it hurt after a while?

The key is to start practice so slow that you have time to relax your entire body - starting with neck, arms, hands, chest, belly and legs. The matter is very huge and the best source I found on addressing this issue is: http://www.guitarprinciples.com/
Thank you all for your help! I started my warm up the other day with a slow exercise and i found it helped but then my hand started hurting after a little while when i moved onto my songs, which I figure could be from tiredness. I guess you can loose the 'fitness' in your hand from not playing regularly.
i suppose this will be a good time to learn some scales, as i admit to only knowing a couple!
I didnt think about tense muscles as I generally am someone who is not good at relaxing and I am tense a lot of the time anyway!
It may be related to a specific technique that you're doing improperly. It's easy to over exert when playing chords, so make sure you do chord warm ups, as well. Having a light touch for chords saves tons of energy and strain.
Quote by megwilkins

I didnt think about tense muscles as I generally am someone who is not good at relaxing and I am tense a lot of the time anyway!

Most probably that is the reason of your problem - you cannot play demanding stuff well and long without adressing this issue. CHeck the website I mentioned above, or find another method to learn relaxing.
The others have pretty much hit the nail on the head: You're too tense, and you need to warm up. But there may still be more issues affecting your ability and causing pain, such as your thumb placement, the angle of your wrist, and how you hold the guitar in general. As Calvin said, a photo or video would help us offer more advice and perhaps find other things you can improve upon. I also suggest investing in a teacher. Nothing will be as helpful as having a competent, experienced guitarist and teacher critiquing your playing in a one-on-one setting. If you have the means, definitely look into it.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.