This probably goes without saying, but staying healthy as a guitarist is hugely important.
But RSIs (repetitive strain injuries), neck and shoulder pain and other health problems are quite common among us guitarists.
As a matter of fact, I've dealt with carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis in my left hand and forearm during the past couple of years. I know firsthand (no pun intended) the problems these injuries can create.
So today I offer you 3 tips for preventing these common guitarist injuries.
1. Warm Up and Cool Down. This is so obvious, but so often ignored by guitarists. You have to learn to see yourself as an athlete. Playing guitar requires lots of small muscle movements. Take a couple minutes to stretch your hands, arms, shoulders and back before playing guitar. Start off easy and gradually pick up the intensity of what you're playing or practicing. Give your muscles time to wake up and warm up. Likewise, take some time to stretch when you're done playing as a cool down. This one tip will make a huge difference.
2. Take Frequent Breaks. Take a 5-10 minute break every 30-60 minutes of playing to give your hands a rest. Better yet, try to spread your practice sessions out over the course of the day so you have even more time to recover after intense playing. Use a timer to remind yourself to stop and rest.
3. Don't Do Too Much Too Soon. When I was working at my corporate job, I played guitar for maybe 30-60 minutes a day on average. When I went full-time with music, I was suddenly playing 4, 6 or even 8 hours a day. Guess what? I developed injuries that still nag me to this day (2 years later). I've read that it's best to increase your playing time by no more than 10% per week. This gives your body time to adjust to the increased demand you're placing on it. Trust me...it's not worth the risk of injury to pick up your practice time too much too fast.
I'm probably not telling you anything you haven't already heard a million times before. That said, please fight your impulse to ignore these words!
If heeded, these 3 tips can help keep you in good playing shape and ward off injury.
Do you have any other tips for staying healthy as a musician? Have you ever experienced an injury as a result of your music making? Leave a comment below.
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