Wrist Care: 5 Simple Tips That Will Help You to Avoid Guitar Wrist Pain and Injuries

Five pieces of advice from one of the India's best guitar players.

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Wrist Care: 5 Simple Tips That Will Help You to Avoid Guitar Wrist Pain and Injuries
Professional and hardcore practicing guitarists carry risks for several types of physical pain. Some of the common problems faced by a guitarist are back pain (arising from a wrong sitting position, wrist pain, finger pain, elbow pain etc).

Please keep in mind that we give thousands of hours and years in our instrument and thus we over-train our muscles too much as compared to a normal person and any wrong habit can easily lead to injury. 

So, let’s find out why it happens.

In my case, there came the wrist pain. I drive, I play guitar for 4 hours and then drive again. I never used a strap or anything like that.

Any guitarist who practices a lot can suffer wrist pain. It mostly happens to your fretting hand that forms chords on the guitar fretboard 

A quality guitar performance wants stronger tendon muscles. Strain comes when you –

  • Apply enough force to press on strings for playing ultra-clear notes
  • Bend the wrist around the guitar neck and shift your fingers rapidly
  • Sometimes do wide-stretch with your little finger (this give extra strain on tendons)
  • You do repetitive movements of same types and keep giving strain on tendons

So here I share 5 Prevention Tips with you to avoid such risks –

  • Always do a simple warm up exercise – One simple thing is to have a rubber ball and squeeze it few times i.e. a minute or so (note that this is a prevention and not cure).  Don’t do it when you are injured as it will aggravate the pain. But this is a good one, recommended workout for guitar players.
  • Strengthen your wrist muscles – Give it more strength by doing simple wrist exercise with a light dumbbell in each hand. This exercise is performed by moving your wrist back and forth for 8-10 repetitions in 1 round. Do it for 3-4 rounds for about few minutes.
  • Relax in-between playing – Shake your hands to throw off the tension. Change your motions, relax, walk, talk, shake, drink etc. i.e. just break the monotony of your hands.
  • Improve your skills gradually – Approach your exercises carefully. It’s dangerous to jump to hardcore exercise without building the base for it. You have to reach to a hardcore training level step by step. 
  • Don’t grip the guitar neck too tight
  • Use Strap – Use a strap to hold Guitar neck in a diagonal way rather horizontal. Playing without strap adds unwanted tension to your wrist whereas using the strap take off that tension. And above all, it makes your playing very smooth and more controlled.

So friends if we care our hands they will play a lot  better music.

And I wish you all the best in your guitar journey.

Love & Regards

Kapil Srivastava from www.guitaristindia.com

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Thanks for this! I've been having a lot of wrist/shoulder pain lately. It's those damn barred chords up and down the fretboard that does it to me. I'll have to give this a try!
    This is pretty spot on. I had some wrist and finger issues lately that I have more or less fixed by doing this, but you're missing a couple of things - Stretch after playing - Learn to relax you shoulder and hand, and use minimal pressure to fret the notes. This will make you a better guitar player as a whole in any case.
    You may also use a foot stool instead of a strap to keep your wrist straight and the nut at eye level.
    Thank you for a good advice Kapil. I had severe tendinitis or tendiopathy that made me stay away from my love(guitar) for almost two years. A pain in index finger tendon which was so bad, that I could not close the button in my pants or tie my shoes for a while. This ended with long term treatment with physiotherapist, and muscle therapist. But another thing: I was quite depressed with the fact that I might never play again. However I managed to get back. I can not stress this enough: listen to your body. If there is pain. Take a break. For a day, a week, a month. And start with less amount of practice. Give your body a chance. Another important thing, is to stretch your forearm, when it is in good health. Don't overdo it, but a 30-60 second light stretch once or twice a day. And the unthinkable for a lot of musicians: Do cardio training, and drink water, eat healthy. It's all about get that blood flowing in your body. Humans were never meant to sit still with only micro finger and arm movements. Thank you. Stay healthy and rock on.