Warning – Take Care of Your Hands

Our hands are important in every day life but they are even more important to us as guitar players.

As a teacher I get asked questions all the time like “are my fingers too fat/big?”, “are my hands too small?”, “should I do stretching exercises?”, “should I warm up before playing?”…

Let me address the stretching one first and hopefully it will answer the other questions for you.

Flexibility and Stretching…

The answer is a bit zen like. You can stretch as far as you can stretch…

Ok, when you start playing your hands won’t be flexible, that’s only normal. As for them being big enough or too small, I haven’t found anyone yet whose hand/finger size has been an issue. Let your fingers find their natural range and please don’t push any further. Play them in, let them find their range.

I know there are stretching exercises out there for guitar players and different gadgets to increase your finger strength. Forget them, the best way I know to improve is just playing the guitar…simple. Don’t over do it and if you are feeling sore, stop playing.

Warm Up, Technique and Your Instrument…

Warm up by running a couple of scales, strumming some chords or playing a simple tune. If your hands are cold, run them under some hot water or simply put them under your arms to get them warm. Develop a good technique that doesn’t put too much stress on your hands, wrists, forearms and shoulders.

Make sure your instrument is well cared for and is the right fit for you, this is often overlooked. You can get a good value for money instrument that plays well but you can also buy a poor quality instrument that’s nearly impossible to play. Don’t defeat yourself before you even start.

A Cautionary Tale…

Now for the cautionary tale: I remember taking some classical lessons back in the day, my teacher Nick was a very fine player. Unfortunately he had done some damage to his left hand and needed an operation for damaged tendons.

The damage was caused by stretching exercises he had been doing to increase his reach on the guitar. Some people may get away with it but I would think caution is the better approach. You can stretch as far as you can stretch, don’t push it.

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