Title says it all... basically, I have a family history of joint problems and it's starting to show. My hands sometimes feel like they're going arthritic after a particularly demanding session, and I'd rather not damage my hands just yet. Are there any stretches and such I can do to protect my hands? Anything else I should do/not do? My grip is pretty light, and I have good posture when playing, good thumb placement, etc., so it's not that. Thanks in advance.
Last edited by Nightfyre at Sep 18, 2008,
you can wear a wrist brace from time to time when you're not playin or while you're sleeping. ive found that it always helps my numbness/pain go away if i was experiencing any. hope it helps
Oy! Come on guys, that's not much help! What are these stretches? And it's my fingers, not my wrists. My wrists rarely hurt, and I already have a brace for the rare occasion that they do.
Hey Dude, I haven't had problems with my finger joints, but about 6 months ago I started getting ocassional sensations like a mild electric shock in my fretting hand wrist while I was playing. I asked a masseuse(sp?) that came to my work about it and he had a good feel around my wrist and forearm and said I had the early stages of carpal tunnel. At first this caused a black depression because I thought I'd have to stop playing, until I realized that this was something that could be worked with and that I was fortunate to have caught it early while I could still do something about it. More than anything, it served as a wake up call. I've been playing for 16+ years, so that is a lot of wear and tear, and it made me realize that I had to take this really seriously.

Number 1 suggestion I have for you is to talk to your doctor. They are the experts at this stuff.

Some of this will apply more than others, since your problem is in your joints and not wrist/forearm like me, but here's what I started doing to look after myself better.

1) Stretch for several minutes before sitting down and playing. I do a forearm stretch that you can do by gently pushing your hand back with your other hand that stretches the muscle along the inside of your forearm.
2) Warm up slowly, stopping every couple of minutes, to stretch. I also focus on relaxing, where I will breath deeply and try and let the tension built up during the day out of my body. I will massage my neck, shoulders, forearms a little. Warm up for a few more minutes. Then repeat stretching, relaxing. And so on for about 15 mins total. I keep stretching periodically throughout my practice.
3) I started paying more attention to how relaxed or tense I was playing. Like you, I've got fairly good technique, but there is always room for improvement. I found that even though my technique was good, if I played something hard really fast before I knew it well, I will still sometimes play tense. So I started taking more time to learn things well before speeding them up (something that should be done anyway!).
4) Important one. I started taking more breaks and spreading my playing out. I typically play 2 hours a day on weeknights and 3-5 hours per day on weekends. I will spread that out over about 3 hrs on weeknights, and 4-7 hours on weekend days. I play for stretches of 15-45 minutes then take at least a 5-10 minute break. I don't allow myself to play for more than 5 hours in a single day, and I make myself take about 1 day off per week.
5) No macho sh*t. If it hurts, I stop.

Thankfully, I haven't had any of the symptoms for several months now.

Anyway, I hope some of this helped.
Quote by XxGibsonSGxX
Alright, if you go to your local sporting goods store, they should have these grip-type devices, that you can buy. Basically, you squeeze it closed and repeat, and it should help your fingers.


It's sort of like this thing, I think.

I've messed with those before, but most of my friends who do hands-on sports (rock climbing and such) say it's bull. I'm inclined to agree with them, as it gave no relief and didn't seem to really improve anything else.
se012101, thanks for the advice. I already follow a few of those rules, but there's a lot there I can draw from. I'll stop by my doctor's office soon.
A big problem for me though is that I play a LOT, because it's not just guitar. In fact, most of it isn't guitar. I'm playing bassoon at least 2 hours a day, up to 4 hours if I have ensemble that day. Then there's the hour of piano for my piano class, and whatever time I can squeeze in on guitar. I'm sure typing on the computer doesn't help, but I try to stay off the computer to avoid problems there.
Thanks for the advice everyone.
Last edited by Nightfyre at Sep 18, 2008,
^^ Typing on a computer really doesn't make much of a difference in your joints unless you do it for 8+ hours a day for something around 30 years straight.
one thing that can help, as se012101 said reducing tension in your hands. aside from the massaging your hands and taking frequent breaks make sure you're only pressing as hard as you need to. it took me forever to realize i don't have to jam down on the strings. also to reduce tension you can lower string gauges and lower the strings closer to the fretboard, the will help reduce the amount of pressure you put on your fingers (and subsequently joints) whenever you press down on the strings. make sure if you decide to lower the action and change string gauges you have it professionally done. i figure if it costs $50 to do this, aren't your hands and the thing you love to do worth it to make sure you can continue to do it