29 October 2011

How to NOT injure your wrist: Acoustic guitar players advice

If you didn't know yet. This blog was started about two years after I injured my left wrist. Been unable to play the guitar since (my favorite time-spending activity) Now I'd like to do some more posts on that subject (check out the On Injury pages too!)

I payed a brief visit to the Acoustic Guitar Forums. There I saw a post of someone asking advice. Someone who recently experienced wrist pains. I gave my advice based on my own experience. It was afterward that I started reading through the tread. Most surprised: great advice was given. Something that may not go down in a forums archive, never to be looked upon again. So I want to post those comments on my blog. Starting with the original post and my own comment. Here goes.

~My Respons~

Hey OP,

I didn't read the whole tread but I'd like you to know, I too had this issue. I just kept playing and playing even when my wrist started to hurt in rest (when I wouldn't touch the guitar the whole day, it hurt) I took action, way too late. I troubled on for over a year. My wrist has not gone better since, but I did learn a lot. I eventually went to see about 5 doctors in different areas of specialization. Anyway I still want to write down my experience but I haven't been able to finish it all. I've got a lot covered on my blog though. If you got the time, you can read it all here http://www.mirrorguitarplay.com/p/injury.html

I'll give you a quick summary.

1) Fix your technique. Playing the guitar shouldn't hurt. If people say you just need to get used to it. That's wrong. When your wrist or forearm starts to hurt, you're not playing right.

What is proper technique? See the blog for excellent information.

You should keep your muscles as relaxed as possible, I read you were making an effort to do so, but It's all in the technique.

2) If it hurt, cool with ice. Your body's natural reaction is to isolate the lets say 'over-used' parts. This can show itself in either, swellings (fluids around the tendons) or 'insulating' parts of the muscle with soft tissue (scar tissue). Well if this starts to happen, you are far from home. If your icing your body won't get a chance to isolate and you will have time to fix your guitar playing behavior before it's too late.

3) When you are not experiencing any pain (anymore) do your best to stretch your forearm muscles and make them more flexible. This will help a lot to get stress off your muscles when you put tension on them (play the guitar).

I'd say check out the blog and ask your question, maybe shoot a bit of video of your playing technique as a reference. I'm Dutch so I might not be using all the proper terms but I think it's good enough to follow.

Good luck make sure you fix it before it gets worse.

Btw. Some people never have to worry about this, it's just in your genes. Some can play the guitar like a Master without worrying over their technique, but if you, like me, got 'weaker' wrists for whatever reason, you need to become very aware of your technique.


Me again, I took the time to read to whole tread. Great advice was given. I wish I asked these people when I was searching for answers. Guess everything has been said. Even the part of you taking a vid. Unbelievable. :)

I'm just gonna add some picture I took myself. And I want to ask you guys if you agree with me.

Bad wrist position, lot's of stress on the forearm muscles.

This is better, relaxed on forearm. Still have to put pressure on the strings. Since I already developed an injury, even this position will make my wrist hurt, and it's been two years since I stopped playing the guitar on an intense level.

I now try to use my thumb for the bass strings. This way I'm using whole different muscles. It's just as if I'm grabbing a hold of the guitar. It's fun because a lot of chords are possible and sometimes you even got a spare finger for more possibilities. This is something I' want to get into. Since it might be just the right solution for me.


  1. this should been taught to me long ago when i first tried the guitar, our teacher never mentioned naything about the pain and isad we where gona getused to it, i dont have any injuries, but i can see why a lot of us never liked playign the guitar.. there IS a relaxed way to do it , i hope you can play as much as you want man! :D

  2. Hmmm anything else you can suggest? I'm not playing an acoustic, but my hobby - chainmaille making involves a lot of repetitive work with the wrists and the thumbs and at one point they start hurting like hell, only option I have is taking a break for a while.

  3. Great advice mate, I´ll try to adapt this to my practice thanks.

  4. hm this sure is helpful! im a noob at playing, so i figured it was because im not use to it..thank you!

  5. Glad I found this. My friend plays the guitar and he constantly moans about his wrist. Always wears wristbands thinking they'll help him.

  6. @Shash You need your hands/ arms in the most relaxed position in which you can do the activity. Don't tighten your muscles when it's not necessarily. Take breaks that's good. And ice it when your wrists feel stressed. That's all the advice I can give.

  7. This is good advice. I know from experience that your suggestion will definitely work in protecting the wrist.

  8. Great tips, I'll be sure to keep this in mind.

  9. I always tell my students that if they experience pain in their wrists or shoulder to check their form immediately and take a break. Your pictures are good examples, I may show them to students as examples!

  10. ı used to do this mistake when I first started too.

  11. How to know whether you are suffering from tendinitis or not? I've been playing guitar since last 5 years but since last 2 days, my shoulders are starting to hurt.

  12. I have to agree with everything in this post. Thanks for the useful information.acoustic guitar tutorial

  13. Woah! Interesting that I came across my old post on this site. Still trying to fix my arms. I actually have discovered partially why I have these issues - tension of course, must be eliminated always. But I also used to train Shotokan Karate for years - where we trained blocks like attacks. So we would blugeon each others inner and outer forearms near the wrists in training these blocks - and it has left me with damage there where I have my main issue - dequervains. I've stopped playing much - I dabble with piano and trumpet these days for some variety. Hoping that I can somehow go back to guitar. So far, even only a little playing will irritate my arms. There is one product SOME people have success with - the flextend glove. Check that out, too.

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