Conquer Guitar Playing Injuries Once and for All • Acoustic Tuesday 277

Imagine a world where carpal tunnel, aching shoulders, and back pain from playing simply vanished. Turns out you can make that world a reality with a few tweaks to your playing routine!

On today’s episode, we’re scaring off the pain gremlins with some tips, tricks, and pointers on preventing use injuries while playing guitar. Before I go any further, though, you need to know that I am not a doctor. If you want to try any of these physical exercises or stretches, please check in with your physician first. 

Poor posture, tension, and repetition are the trifecta of any overuse injury. Any combination of these causes can result in an injury that can set you back on your acoustic guitar journey. This episode will focus on injury prevention. Rather than diagnose any pain you may feel, I’ll outline some basic steps to improve posture, reduce tension, and decrease overuse injury.

One of the easiest things you can do is incorporate stretching into your playing routine. Before you start playing, try taking a deep breath, rolling your shoulders back, stretching your neck, and trying one of the stretches I demonstrate for forearms — after you talk to your physician, of course.

We hold so much tension throughout the day. Let guitar playing be a moment you can check in with yourself. Deep breaths, light stretching, and relaxing can change how you play and improve your playing longevity. 

Submit your guitarsenal at the link below!  

Featured on this episode…
– Michael Watts  
– Fretboard Journal  
– Beard Guitars  
– Greensky Bluegrass  
– Gibson Guitar  
– Mark Agnesi  
– Eastman Guitars  
– Jack White  
– Ariel Posen  

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Tony if you haven’t seen a Stehr guitar I highly recommend to look him up @ Stehr Guitars. The pictures will show his awesome work. I’ve played 5-6 and they sound is equally good. Tom. Guitar geek and ex SERE instructor

  2. Thanks Tony. After you know the notes, after you know the chords, what is left. It is the first hurdle I discovered I needed to get over and it will be the last one and it is the reason I am caught hook, line, and sinker. Overcoming tenision is miraculous, it is everything. Now the only and I mean only way I can progress is by constantly monitoring my tension. It never ends and it is always trying creep in. When it is gone though…….Holy cow….bliss
    Ya, stretching….keep stretching. I stretch frequently…many times a day. I stretch not to put tension on the fingers,hands,arms,neck, but to release tension. I had to relearn stretching when it came to guitar muscles. I call it silly putty stretching. To hard to fast and it snaps but if you go slowly and gently it releases more than you would have thought.

  3. Hi Tony. Liked the show, as usual.

    After multiple injuries, and surgeries to repair or replace broken or worn out body parts, I’ve learned how much good stretching can do and make you feel afterwards. Good info for those that aren’t aware of the benefits.

    After hearing your Acoustic Music Works announcement about the varnish finished Eastman guitars, I went to their site to check out the inventory. As of this date, Thurs. Feb 9, they showed only 5 varnished Eastmans. One of those was sold, and another on hold. They had quite a few other Eastman offerings, but only 5 with varnish mentioned in the description.
    Hurry if you’re interested folks!

  4. Tony – thanks for nice comments. My attributing support and growth to the TAC program and community is 100% real and tangible for me. My new album “The Counter” which includes “Bad Scotch For A Good Man” will be released within the next 30 days or so. Is it any good ? I dont know – but I am enjoying the journey, learning, and moving forward and thats my goal. I will really benefit from the stretching – which has never been a part of my guitar routine. In hind sight it makes sense because I would occasionally try learning a new song and realize there was no way i could get my fingers in those some positions. So the stretching should be very helpful !

    1. Hi, Terry.
      I haven’t seen your name on the site since the last Progress Party. Your interview was more interesting than when I was talking to Tony. I listened to Bad Scotch for a Good Man. I like it! Great song. Congrats.
      Good luck with the album!

      1. Hey Rando,
        “Bad Scotch…” continues to evolve. For the Album I slowed it down and added a 2nd guitar and just a hint of bass. I am pretty happy with how it is turning out. I have not been posting much on TAC due to the focus on getting production done on the album which takes a lot of time since I am still learning about composition, instrumentation, and recording. Still focused on the daily challenges and the Fret Board Wizard but I need to get more consistent ! Happy playing !

  5. Great show this week Tony! I’ve been a TAC member for around 3-4 years now and am a faithful consumer of Acoustic Tuesdays. I appreciate the portions of the show where you dedicate time to new artists. I have one I’d like to introduce to the AT/TAC family. Her name is Kelly Smith and she is a brilliant artist from northern MN. I had the luxury of seeing her open up for Charlie Par a couple weeks ago at a venue in central MN. Her new album Moon Child has been streaming in our house constantly. I think the world needs to here what she has to say. Thanks for all you do Tony.

    She can be found on all the regular streaming services and the link for her music is here.

  6. Thanks for these stretches and the ones in the original section of TAC. Every one of these stretches, as well as the posture and flexibility exercises, is within the warmups and movements of Tai Chi. I recommend it highly, as it requires no equipment, can be done anywhere and will do good things for your overall flexibility. There’s nothing mystical about it; it’s just a good, gentle exercise.

  7. Hey Tony,
    I’m a TAC member. Holy Smokes! I realize now that my carpol tunnel is from playing guitar for 10 years as a worship leader for my church. I have NEVER stretched before service. I have terrible pins and needles in my chording hand, Before I reach the end of a song, my left hand is asleep. Thank you for the exercise. I will do these stretches each and every time I play guitar. Where is the stretch course you talked about??
    I’m looking forward to learning new techniques in guitar playing, how to finger pick and learning new chords (bar chords), and chords like F#M, C#M etc. Thanks for being a musical inspiration. I look forward to this course every day and playing through the challenges.

  8. Thanks Tony; I’ve been a TAC member since December 2021. I have done your stretches section and continue to do so. When I got into Fret Board Wizard I noticed discomfort in my Left Wrist and Forearm. I started the forearm stretches but I also try and become Aware of my entire body before I stretch and found that Tension was a huge Culprit. So I try and ground myself and release all of my tensions (I now do this prior to everything I do like driving a car)d and it has helped immensely. I also put on a brace that immobilizes my thumb and wrist generally in the evening when I am through with my guitar routine. This has helped me so very much. Thank you for all you have shown me over the past 400 +/- days

  9. Thank you, Tony. I am just starting my 4th week as a TAC member. You have got me hooked, now let’s see if we can get me in the boat. I appreciate the exercises, but as a hockey player and an ex-football player we know, sometimes you have to play over the pain. lol Let’s settle for play over the discomfort. GOOD STUFF!

  10. Hi Tony, I’m a one-year TAC member and really learning a lot. So grateful to have found your site! I had a lot of soreness at first, and did your stretching course which has helped. I also wound up playing in a classical position for a good reason, which helped with backache. Yoga also helps strengthen and stretch. One question: Do you have any advice about avoiding repetition injuries when we’re practicing? Anything we should pay attention to?

  11. Hi Tony, as a Chiropractor, I appreciate the time and energy you put into discussing posture, and the importance of stretching and exercising the appropriate muscle groups associated with playing guitar. I’m enjoying the classes and proud of being part of the TAC family.

  12. Long time occasional listener, now retired, Tuesday is guitar day.
    The stretching and relaxing section was good. I just recently learned if I think relax as I’m going into it, I can play the very fast 3 note chord repeat that Leo Kottke does towards the end of Mona Ray. I’ve played it for years and that was always a trouble spot. Both Leo Kottke, and Mark Hansen have mentioned the need to relearn to relax to continue playing.
    2- when working on a hard piece, I am starting to stop and play something easy that I know well as a break. Play the hard new song,do a couple slow passes through the rough spot, then go play a little Hotel California, then go back the hard song. Kinda like stopping to stretch.then going back to working on your slap shot.