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Pain From Playing the Guitar? Read This

Updated: Feb 12

Are you in physical pain from playing your guitar?


It's fairly common for guitar players to experience finger pain, wrist strain, shoulder pain or even thumb pain from playing the guitar. We will help you understand why your guitar is causing you pain, and provide practical tips for relieving or avoiding these pains altogether.


frustrated man in pain with guitar on his lap

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Finger Pain


Playing the guitar requires repetitive finger movements, which can lead to discomfort and pain, especially for beginners. Here's why your guitar is causing you finger pain:


Why It Happens: Excessive pressure on the fingertips from pressing down on the strings can cause soreness and calluses to form. Additionally, stretching and bending of the fingers during chord changes or intricate fingerpicking patterns can lead to strain and fatigue.


Relief and Prevention Tips:

  • Take frequent breaks during your guitar practice to give your fingertips time to rest and recover.

  • Gradually build up calluses by practicing regularly, but avoid overdoing it, especially in the beginning.

  • Experiment with lighter gauge strings like these ones on our list of beginner guitar essentials. You could also lower your string action on your guitar, to reduce the amount of pressure required to fret the strings.

  • Use proper hand positioning and finger placement to minimize unnecessary strain on your fingertips.

Wrist Pain


Wrist pain is a common complaint among guitarists and can result from poor technique or overuse. Here's how to address wrist pain associated with guitar playing.



man hold wrist due to wrist pain from playing guitar


Why It Happens: Incorrect wrist positioning, such as bending the wrist too far or holding it at an awkward angle, can lead to strain and discomfort. Additionally, repetitive motions, such as strumming or picking your guitar, can exacerbate wrist pain over time.


Relief and Prevention Tips:

  • Maintain a neutral wrist position while playing, keeping your wrist straight and aligned with your forearm.

  • Warm up your wrists and hands before playing with gentle stretches and exercises.

  • Avoid excessive force when fretting or strumming the strings, and focus on using relaxed, fluid motions.

  • Consider using ergonomic accessories, such as a guitar support or wrist brace, to provide additional support and alleviate strain.

  • Consider using this wrist strap to support your wrist. These are comfortable, will stabilize your wrist to relieve pain and prevent injury to your wrist while playing your guitar.

Shoulder Pain


Shoulder pain can arise from tension and poor posture while playing the guitar. Here's how to address and prevent shoulder pain.



man grabbing shoulder in pain from playing guitar


Why It Happens: Holding the guitar in an awkward or hunched position can put strain on the shoulders and upper back muscles, causing shoulder pain from your guitar playing. Additionally, tension in the shoulders from stress or anxiety can manifest as pain during playing.


Relief and Prevention Tips:

  • Maintain good posture while playing guitar, keeping your shoulders relaxed and your spine straight.

  • Use a guitar strap to distribute the weight of the guitar evenly across your shoulders and back. We love this guitar strap for its quality and look.

  • Take regular breaks from guitar playing to stretch and release tension in the shoulders and upper back.

  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to reduce overall tension and stress.

Thumb Pain


Thumb pain can occur from excessive pressure and repetitive movements while fretting chords or playing bass lines. Here's how to address thumb pain associated with guitar playing.



woman holding thumb joint in pain from playing guitar

Why It Happens: Gripping the neck of the guitar too tightly or using excessive force with the thumb can strain the muscles and tendons in the thumb. Additionally, repetitive thumb movements, such as playing rapid bass lines, can lead to overuse and discomfort.


Relief and Prevention Tips:

  • Focus on using a relaxed grip with your thumb when fretting chords, allowing the weight of your arm to help support the pressure.

  • Practice proper thumb placement on the back of the guitar neck, keeping it aligned with your fingers and avoiding excessive bending or stretching.

  • Use exercises and stretches to strengthen and increase flexibility in the thumb and hand muscles.

  • Experiment with different thumb positions and angles to find what feels most comfortable and natural for you.




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