How To Play Guitar Forever – Ergonomic Guitar Straps
Playing guitar shouldn’t hurt.
Okay, so your fingers are going to BLEED sometimes (but only for those of us SERIOUS guitarists… ). When it comes to the rest of your body, though, if you feel discomfort, you can hurt your playing as well as cause serious health issues down the road.
Whenever I play the guitar for extended periods of time, it feels like the tendons in my right shoulder are almost ripping apart (a gross description, but yeah). I don’t believe that this is because of the guitar alone, though (I hurt my shoulder a long time ago grappling and have since then experienced pain whenever there is strain on my back). The sad part is, this pain makes it very difficult to practice as much as I would like to in the way that I want to (i.e. standing up). As time goes on, it only gets worse.
If you experience pain when you play guitar, it’s important that you figure out a way to put a stop to it. By ignoring what your body is telling you, you can eventually cause serious problems for yourself (e.g. permanent spine injuries, arthritis, etc). I know, it’s kind of sad to think that guitar can be a hazard to your health…but it’s a good idea to think about it and to take precautions so that you can play guitar for the rest of your life instead of having to worry about injuries preventing you from it…
If the pain I have sounds familiar (or if you experience pain in any parts of your shoulders, back or chest) you may want try using an ergonomic guitar strap. I’ve never actually used a “real” version of one of these straps (I’ve just been slipping my head in between the two parts of my normal strap and allowing each side to rest on my shoulders). But so far, I’ve noticed an amazing difference in the way I feel when playing the guitar.
The first time I thought of trying it, my shoulder was feeling pretty bad. After slipping in between my strap, the pain immediately disappeared and playing became MUCH easier. Granted, it does look a little silly, but that’s why you may only want to use it during practice sessions. That way, when you perform, you’re unlikely to experience the pain you normally would. In fact, the strength of your back should improve so that eventually you never feel pain (or at least the pain is reduced dramatically).
You can try making your own ergonomic strap like I did, or search to buy a special one online. I’m currently searching to try one myself and will definitely share with you the difference in feel as opposed to simply using any ol’ strap (I’m curious to know…has anyone else tried this? What do you think of brand-name versions versus your own?)
There are other products you can use, too, such as NeckUps or ErgoPlays, both of which will provide extra support for your neck and spine when you play guitar. There’s a great series of articles on Artist-Musikerhalsen which delves deeper into what ergonomics are and why it’s so important (just extra information that I won’t bore you with here…)
If you get anything from this, remember that it’s extremely important to pay attention to your body whenever you experience pain or discomfort. You WANT to play guitar for the rest of your life, so you must make sure that you aren’t preventing yourself from doing so.