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Preventing guitar related injuries

wrist

wristWell over a year ago, I sustained a serious repetitive stress injury (RSI) in my left wrist. The injury had become chronic before I finally figured out what kind of corrective action to take. Hopefully, the information you find in this little post will help you to prevent, or at least lessen the likelihood of RSI.


Well over a year ago, I sustained a serious repetitive stress injury (RSI) in my left wrist. The injury had become chronic before I finally figured out what kind of corrective action to take. Hopefully, the information you find in this little post will help you to prevent, or at least lessen the likelihood of RSI.

Always warm up before getting into your routine. This is particularly true when preparing to play agressive, advanced techniques.

  1. Begin your warm up with gentle stretching of each finger and then the entire hand. You can accomplish this by holding your arm out straight in front of you, and parallel to the floor. Your hand should be in the upward “stop” position (perpendicular to the floor), as though you’re telling someone directly in front of you to halt.  Your fingers will be pointed toward the ceiling. Next, take your other hand and very gently (take care not to overextend) pull each finger of the “stop” hand back toward you. This should be done slowly and gently–never to the point of pain and taking great care not to overextend each finger. Finally, you can gently pull back on all four fingers in the same manner previously described. Hold each stretch for a moment or two.
  2. Play through some very simple chord changes. You can alternatively run through some simple scales (ascending and descending). Make sure you perform these warm ups in a slow deliberate fashion. Once you’re warmed up, you can begin playing.
  3. Avoid sitting in the same position for a prolonged period of time. Don’t practice for more than 30-60 minutes at a time. If you’re planning on practicing more than that, be sure you get at least as much rest between practice intervals as you have practice time. For example, if you’re planning on practicing for two hours, you could try breaking it up, practicing for one hour, taking a break for at least the same amount of time and then resuming your final hour of practice.
  4. Be sure that you have a comfortable chair and that your posture is good. Guitar players are notorious for having bad posture. This is one time where you should follow grandma’s advice and “Sit up straight!” Not doing so can lead to all sorts of back problems and possibly nerve damage.
  5. Don’t forget to breathe and breathe deeply when practicing. Guitar players tend to have very shallow breathing when they are playing and it’s not healthy to do this for a prolonged period of time.

Following these simple rules can help you extend your “career” as a player and increase your overall enjoyment of the guitar.

Goodluck!

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