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Wrist, Hand, and Finger Health for Guitarists

May 21, 2012; Caleb Knott

My name is Caleb Knott and I am sixteen years old. I have been playing guitar for eight years, drums for seven to eight years, and bass for six years. I am not a specialist or doctor, but I have researched hand- and wrist-health for musicians. Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned.

Wrist Positions
You may see many flamenco or classical guitarists with extremely bent or arched wrists. These positions cam cause the tendons to tighten and accelerate the possibility of carpal tunnel syndrome. A simple explanation of carpal tunnel syndrome is a build-up and hardening of tissue between the index and thumb. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause serious problems and pain, keeping you from playing.

Pressure and Strings
It is best to avoid having very high string action on your guitar, in order to prevent having to apply too much pressure between the index finger and thumb, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Low-gauge strings are a good idea for beginners or people with weak hands. Keeping the wrist straight will also help. Keeping the wrist straight while holding the neck in a baseball bat fashion is always recommended.

Fingers and Fingernails
Keeping the fingernails relatively short is also a good idea. Many times guitarists, including myself, have torn fingernails that were too long. It can also be very uncomfortable for your nails to be scraping on the fret board. It is also best to move your fingers from the knuckles and not from the base of the hand or the wrist.

Practice Time
Playing too long can quickly damage your hands. Try to break up your practice sessions into manageable segments. The occurrence of pain is a sure sign that you have been playing too long or incorrectly. The main goal is to play sensibly and with as little effort as possible, while still honing your skills on the guitar.
If you follow these simple tips, you should be able to continue playing for many years to come.

Thanks for reading  and keep rocking!

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