Two Stretches – and One Move – Every Guitarist Should Do (If They Want to Keep Playing)
Have you heard?
Back in February 2017, I took up jazz guitar.
The goal was to do something to boost my brain health and to bring more joy into my life.
For me, jazz guitar accomplishes both.
There’s a downside if you’re not careful.
Bad posture from all the slouching. And symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can creep into your life.
It can happen with ease if you’re getting lost in the excitement of it all and not paying attention to your posture and hand health.
The good news is, I’ve got two stretches and one move that can help fight against those negative side effects.
Would you like to keep on playing without neck, shoulder, and wrist pain?
Read on …
Stretch Number One
Keeping your fingers curled to play chords and run scales works one set of muscles. They’re your flexors.
If you make a fist, you’re using your flexor muscles.
But what about the opposing muscle group?
Chances are they’re ignored and getting weaker as your flexors are getting stronger. And this kind of imbalance can create pain and can also affect your playing in a bad way.
Try this …
Step one: Place your hand flat on a table or a wall. Open your fingers as wide as possible.
Step two: Now try to lift your fingers off the surface. Keep your hand down. Only lift your fingers.
Hold for up to 30 seconds.
This will help strengthen your extensors. It will also help stretch your overused flexors.
Stretch Number Two
Slumping over the fingerboard to see what you’re doing is normal for most guitarists. It helps you keep an eye on what’s going on as you’re shedding away on new material.
The pitfalls of all that slouching are many:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Poor breathing
- And more
Try this …
Step one: Sit up tall or stand up tall (standing up is a little better).
Step two: Look up to the ceiling.
Step three: Try to touch your nose to the ceiling. Don’t just let your head fall back. Use your muscles to try and press your face into the ceiling.
Step four: Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Do you know what it looks like when someone drops an ice cube down your back? That’s kind of what you should look like now.
This will help loosen your tight chest. And will help strengthen your overstretched neck and back.
Hold this for about 30 seconds.
The One Move
This single move puts all the components together in a nice little package.
It’s call “rocking”.
Check out this helpful video (1:02) for a demonstration.
Step one: Come to all fours.
Step two: Lift your head, chest, and tailbone slightly.
Step three: Inhale and rock back. Only go so far as your back does not begin to flex.
Step four: Exhale and rock forward.
Repeat for up to one minute.
It’s easy to forget about your posture and the health of your hands, especially when you’re learning a new tune.
It happens to all of us.
Now you have some tools to help strengthen and stretch muscles and muscle groups that have become unbalanced.
Begin slowly at first.
Stretch your hands throughout your practice as needed.
Stretch your chest and shoulders every time you stand up to take a break.
Get on the ground and rock as much as possible every day.
There are no “hard and fast” rules, here. Use these stretches when you need them.
You’ve got this!
For an excellent jazz guitar resource, check out my friend, Matt Warnock. You’ll find tons of free online content that’s perfect for the beginner as well as the seasoned jazz guitarist.
If you’re looking for a great yoga resource, check out our popular video downloads. You can practice in the privacy of your own living room during a practice break.