Shoulder pain can be a problem if you play the guitar. There are some things that you can do to reduce and even eliminate the pain altogether. This guide will show you what you need to do.
Shoulder Pain is Not Normal
If you have shoulder pain when playing guitar, you're doing something wrong. There can be several factors that result in shoulder pain, and you may have to address several of them to eliminate the pain.
You're Holding Your Guitar Wrong
One of the main factors that can cause shoulder pain is that you’re holding the guitar in the wrong way. You should sit in a chair and have your feet on the floor. Hold the guitar against your body, and it should be close to your stomach. It should feel comfortable. Don’t sit with your legs crossed and try not to play with the guitar on your knee as this may cause shoulder pain. You may also want to use a footrest as this can angle the leg a bit so you can reach the frets. This is a classical guitar approach, and some players prefer this angle.
Make sure you have a comfortable chair without armrests, as this makes it easier to hold the guitar and play. Don’t sit on your bed or couch as this creates an unnatural angle and may complicate issues with shoulder pain.
Your Wrist Angle is Wrong
Your hand plays a large role in how comfortable it feels when you play. If there is tension in the wrist, it can translate up and down the arm and even go into the shoulder. Always keep the wrist as relaxed as you can when you play. Don’t tense up the hand and strain yourself or play something you may not be ready for.
Make sure your thumb is behind the neck, and your fingers are curled somewhat to reach the frets. Use the tips of your fingers unless you’re using a whole finger to play barre chords. Relax if you feel pain and don’t press the fingers too hard against the strings. All of this tension may cause problems with shoulder pain.
Perhaps the worst culprit for shoulder pain is a bad guitar strap. You may have the strap strung too low on the back and shoulders and bent out of shape as you try to reach the frets. This is a poor angle for playing purposes. Your strap needs to be higher, as this reduces the amount of shoulder pain that you feel.
Make sure you use a high-quality guitar strap. Leather straps are the best option. You may also want one that has some padding in the shoulder and neck area to reduce strain there. Try some different adjustments with your strap until you find a comfortable length that produces little pain.
Some electric guitars like the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar is very heavy. This can put a lot of strain on your shoulder if played standing up. If your electric guitar is heavy, switch to a lighter guitar like a Stratocaster style, which weighs a lot less. On the acoustic side, a full-sized acoustic can be too heavy. You might try a ¾ sized guitar, which is a lot lighter. A lighter guitar takes a lot of strain off of the shoulder. Make sure that you’re using a guitar that is as comfortable as possible for you to play.
Practicing for Too Long
Take breaks when you practice. If you play for an hour, take a 10-minute break to relax your body. If you play for endless hours, this puts a lot of strain on the body. Don’t stand and play for more than an hour. If your shoulder starts to hurt, you need to stop and relax.
Ice and Time Off
If you have a lot of shoulder pain, take some pain medication, and use ice or heat to reduce pain. You should take several days off from guitar practice until the shoulder heals. Make adjustments in your playing to ensure that the pain does not come back in the future. Try a new strap or a lighter guitar if you still experience pain.
You can reduce and even eliminate shoulder pain if you play the guitar. Evaluate how you play and watch your wrist, the weight of your guitar, and use a high-quality guitar strap if you play standing up. If you do all of this, you’ll soon see shoulder pain as a thing of the past.