There are many reasons why guitar warm up exercises and stretches are beneficial to your health and guitar playing in general. Warm up exercises help to create better blood flow to the hands, arms, shoulders and back and promote greater dexterity also allowing a better position to be developed while playing. Often posture and comfort are compromised when playing the guitar simply because no attention is given to the body while playing or because the body is contorted around the instrument putting strain on the neck, back and spine. By taking the time to do these exercises before playing, you will help to improve your comfort and health and avoid guitar related pains. Here is a quick list of areas to cover in your guitar warm up with appropriate stretches. Working a routine into your guitar playing session will help to reduce any muscle cramps, niggles or poor posture habits. Getting a comfortable guitar strap is also a good way to improve your posture and eliminate poor posture and position related problems. See The Mundo Guitar Strap here.
- Finger stretches and massage. The hands and fingers have to contort and press on the strings which can create strain. Make sure you warm up by massaging the whole area of each hand in turn with the finger tips of the other hand. Get in between the knuckles and really massage heavily for a good 5 minutes. Stretch the fingers backwards individually and all together working the wrist in all directions. This will improve blood flow and increase dexterity, allowing better hand positions and more comfort. Take time to do this before and while playing.
- Upper back and shoulders. Holding your guitar around the neck and ‘hunching’ over it can result in back problems and a poor posture. Take each arm in turn and with other hand grab the elbow, rotating the shoulder in every direction.Look up and back as far as you can from either a sitting or standing position. Shrug your shoulders forwards, backwards and then up and down. From standing clasp your hands together over your head and stretch upwards as far as possible. Look up and back stretching from your lower back.
- Lower back and hips. Sitting on a chair take your right hand and place on your left knee. Looking over your left shoulder twist as far as possible placing your left hand behind you. Do the same on the other side. Bend forwards as far as possible placing your head between your legs. Hold each position for 20 seconds. Look up and backwards from standing placing your hands in a ‘diving’ position.
Other considerations It is also worth noting that proper diet and exercise will be hugely beneficial for proper functioning of the muscles and joints. Poor eating habits and lack of exercise will increase the onset of problematic joint pain from guitar playing. Take regular breaks from playing the guitar and maintain good posture and a relaxed position while playing. It can be beneficial to record your playing posture with a video camera to see if poor posture might be causing any problems. Use an ergonomic guitar strap which helps to maintain good posture and offer a better playing position – reducing strain.