Guitar practice can get a like-hood hand injury. The injury can happen as in any sport event. It can happen unexpectedly. Getting harmed hand is the biggest problem, especially if the extra income depends of music playing.
Hands are musician’s soft instrument. Harming hands always cause’s inconvenience. But, what's worst, is that any guitar injury leave negative impact to hands muscles. Even after injury is healed, it may happen again in same spot because healed muscles inside have left micro injuries. This slows down smooth movements and whole playing process in general. Hands become never same again...
I would like to share how to avoid guitar injury and to keep taking care of hands and body. This is from personal experience. I hope this guides to new level of practice without any further injuries.
Let me tell you about my personal injury.
Here’s how it happened...
A while ago, I practiced guitar with no understanding how to do it to become better/faster/stronger. I knew, to play better, I must practice hard every day.
"Today the practice takes a lot of time but I’m doing it in slightly different way. I’ll tell you about it later..."
Ok, I played and played guitar a lot. One day I felt my left hand hurt. The pain was tingling like. Tingling was stronger in vibrato and fast lick playing. My hand hurt but I overlooked and continued to practice. Few days later my speed slowed down and I couldn’t play even a chord. I realized that this is very bad and I stopped playing. But my hand was already injured. It swelled and was same size as feet roe (almost same size). It started to pain and very soon I couldn’t pick up anything with left hand. Next what happened...
... was the 4 week treatment
Left hand’s Carpal tunnel was inflamed. I spent a lot of time treating it and taking medical care. I'm not mentioning about spent money of treatment. I spent some money too...
"That money could have been spent on something better, for example, entertainment or vacation. But it wasn't meant for that. It was meant for medical care. Shame…"
I'm not reading moral, I'm sharing personal story about what happened. I wan't to help everybody to avoid the same experience.
Today I still feel old injury scar inside the left hand. It slows down a little bit of my speed. But, from other side, this allows working more on harmonics and Jimi Hendrix/John Frusciante style of playing instead. Always, find good opportunity in bad experience, because it helps to taste good times.
Here, I’ve highlighted few suggestions for beginners and advanced guitarists of avoiding any guitar injury. I suggest also getting familiar with warming up before each practice which is basic way for reducing any injury up to 99%.
Avoiding guitar injuries. Recommendations for beginners
As for any beginner, hands require strengthening. Keep practicing. Hands will ache in first months. The best practice is to keep working on chords, scales playing, solos, hammer-ons, pull-offs and arpeggios in first 5 positions (first 5 frets on each string). Here it requires the strongest pressure. Chords strengthens wrists. Arpeggios help in finger/hand synchronization. You might feel hands hurt a lot because of the playing. Forget about it! Keep practicing! One day hands will become stronger and pain will be gone. Any chord will be played painless and fast. Any fast lick will be played fast.
Keep in mind, do guitar warm up before every practice. It's recommended to do everytime! Here're few reasons why it's important:
- It prepares hands;
- It brings blood flow to muscles;
- It warms up hands and the body;
- It reduces getting any guitar injury up to 99%;
- Warm hands are ready for massive loads!
Recommendations for advanced players to avoid any injury
Warming up is always in the first place. I recommend to do it always. Take a break after some months of playing. It depends on own feelings. I make myself a vacation in every 3 - 4 months. I stop practicing for about week or two. It rests hands, body and mind also. Everyone on the job usually takes a vacation once in 6 months. It helps to rest and to increase productivity. The same is with the guitar playing. Massage your hands once (or more) in a week. This also makes perfect blood flow inside and reduces tiredness.
Second, if you feel some kind of tingling inside the hands - stop playing! If you feel strong warmness inside the hands while practice - stop playing! Too much warm can cause guitar related injury.
Massage of hands and body is good practice to restore smooth blood flow. I do it periodically on own feelings.
John Petrucci in Rock Discipline of his rock course explains simple and effective massage ways.
The hands massage helps to:
- Restore blood flow;
- Calm tension in hands;
- Reduce micro-injuries;
- That's it! It’s simple but often we forget about simple and remember it when the bad happens!
Learn from other musician experience. It’s the best knowledge. Don’t forget about simple things! Learn form other mistakes and avoid them. The same goes in life.
Practice wisely, take care of your body and it will take care of you.
The GGE guitar guide is happy to share this with you.