Health problems from bad posture come about when you spend long periods of time in the wrong posture. Certainly, if you intend practising guitar for 3 hours every day, you should break down this time into sections so you can take breaks and change positions.
A sloppy playing position is unsightly to those watching, it restricts your hand movements, causes stress, pain and spinal degeneration. There are no hard and fast rules on how to sit or stand when playing the guitar, just tips and guidelines.
Apply these 6 postural and ergonomic tips to prevent fatigue, prevent backache and neck pain and make your playing look cool, relaxed and effortless.
1. Correct Posture for Playing Guitar Seated
Avoid using the edge of your bed for playing guitar. Invest in a drafting chair or stool that raises your body and allows your legs to extend when playing. The stools improve your playing ability as you can access all the notes on the frets.
Your guitar-playing posture is an important factor towards a pain-free playing position. Using a footstool helps towards good posture, and you can elevate your leg to get the guitar into a position that allows you to play free of pain and strain. The best footstool can be adjusted to various heights for the ideal position.
Most drafting stools are lightweight, and can be used as a regular office chair for work.
2. Guitar Straps for Playing the Guitar while Standing
If your guitar doesn’t come with a strap, it’s a good idea to buy a strap as it’s an integral part of playing the guitar while standing. The correct strap will reduce guitar weight on your shoulder. The strap can be adjusted to suit your playing style. Angle your guitar to 45° as this position allows your hands to fall naturally onto the guitar.
Keep your feet in line with your shoulders as proper posture comes from keeping your feet spread naturally and in line with your shoulders help you avoid back pain and back injuries while playing.
3. Holding the Guitar Correctly
When playing your guitar seated, if you are right-handed, the curve of the guitar should rest on your right thigh. The guitar rests on the right leg as you’ll be using your right hand to strum. The guitar sits just below the chest with back straight and left arm at a right angle to ensure less strain on the wrist when strumming. Many guitarists are in the habit of hunching over their guitar, which inevitably affects their posture and back problems later in life.
The guitar is such a laid-back instrument that you may want to sit on the ground with your guitar. Then your legs will need to be positioned in such a way that the body of the guitar is at chest height and you have minimal hunching.
4. Guitar Ergonomics
Playing guitar puts stress and demands on the muscles and tendons of a guitarist, leading to repetitive strain injuries. Musculoskeletal injuries amongst guitarists are common. You can’t stop playing but you can become informed about prevention options. Today, guitarists have different accessories and tools such as straps, strap locks and other devices at their disposal which have been designed to enhance their performance. Musicians need to look for these accessories as well as a posture that will keep joints in the range of motion. They also need to warm up before practice and take plenty of breaks so as to stretch and relax. Check out your guitar and make sure it is set up optimally for you - lighter strings for instance or a strap that could make playing less stressful.
5 Setting Up your Guitar for Ease of Play
If practising guitar is more of a physical effort than pleasure, it may need a set up. A young amateur may well just require a footrest to get the right height to place the guitar, but as you become more skilled and put in longer hours of practice, back-ache and pain may start appearing because of unnatural body posture.
A good guitar tech knows precisely what to do to make play easier for you. For instance playability issues in terms of string spacing can be fixed. Some manufacturers install nuts with narrower string spacing, but if your fretting hand feels awkward, the spacing can be checked and widened, requiring a new nut. If a string for instance is too close to the edge of the fingerboard, re-spacing allows for better playability.
6. Invest in an Ergonomic Guitar
Up until recently, guitars haven’t been built for comfort. Now, many ergonomic guitars can be custom made, allowing players to have easy access to the higher frets and a guitar which fits them perfectly. There are brands which are now creating a more ergonomic and comfortable way to pick at guitar strings, allowing players to adopt a more natural and less straining posture.
Consistent correct guitar posture is important for your health, making the work of your hands and figures that much easier. Modern guitar makers are now starting to also design guitars which comfortably fit the shape of the player's body towards less muscle strain when playing.
Avoid poor posture, because discomfort caused by poor posture is often so subtle, you only realize it when you’ve injured yourself, you can no longer play and your guitar gently weeps.