How to Shred Guitar and Not Your Hands
Posted August 24, 2017
The rock-and-roll lifestyle can put years on your life, but what often gets overlooked is the impact it has on your hands and wrists. Intense use for hours on end can really wear joints and muscles down. After years and years of playing, you could end up dreading that minute-long solo you’ve been working on for months. It’s important to make sure you protect and take care of your hands and wrists, so you can keep playing today’s music until it’s on the oldies channel.
The Opening Act
As tempting as it is to just pick up the guitar and start playing, you’re going to need to warm up if you want to play for the rest of your life. This video features some great guitar-specific stretches you can perform before playing, but always remember to activate your shoulders, back, core, and arms with a dynamic stretch, or in other words, a stretch in which you are moving. These stretches can be recommended by a physiotherapist. Remember to do every stretch with the best form possible because an improper stretch does more damage than good.
Warming up your muscles will allow you to play longer, but every player should regularly take breaks. Take a break and relax every twenty minutes. You should take as many breaks as possible during long practice sessions. Don’t be afraid to tell your band you need to stop playing for a few minutes.
Dynamic stretches are important before playing, but static stretches, or stretches in which you are stationary, should always come after you play. Speak with a specialist about which exercises can help your muscles relax after you play guitar. This will properly cool down your muscles, and will also help prevent soreness and cramps in the future. Using hand salve after playing will help prevent any dry, cracked skin.
Getting the Roadie Strength
It’s important to consider playing the guitar a physical activity so you remember to prepare more often and never overdo it. Besides playing frequently, guitarists can use guitar-specific devices to increase their stamina and strength. These are pretty affordable and can help make better use of any downtime. Moving your own gear will help strengthen your forearms and wrists, if done properly. Always be careful lifting heavy equipment and avoid lifting with your back or core, relying more on your legs. Implementing a light exercise routine can also be beneficial to your joints and muscles.
If for any reason at all, you start feeling real pain in either your arms or wrists, you should always stop playing and plan to see a hand specialist as soon as possible. Injuries are only going to get worse if you think it’s “rock and roll” to press on through the pain. “No pain, no gain” means nothing when you ain’t playin’.
If you’re dealing with a hand condition that causes pain or makes it difficult to use your hands, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your hand health is our priority—and it should be yours as well! We’ll work with you to find a personalized treatment plan so you can get back to doing the things you love most (like mastering all the solos in “Free Bird”). To stay up-to-date on everything happening at HSST, make sure to follow us on Facebook! Our hands heal yours!