Have you struggled with stiff or sore fingers while playing guitar? If so, you're not alone. Not only have I heard this from many students but I experience it myself (ah… the joys of getting older).
Here are three things you can do to help.
Stretch a little.
This is something that I do regularly and it's helped me a lot. You can start your practice with a few stretches as part of your warmup routine.
I’ve found it helpful to do a few stretches throughout the day as well. At the request of students I’ve created a lesson on stretching. You don’t have to do them all. I recommend picking a few to get started. I have my favorites but everyone's different.
Hand Stretching Warm-up Routine for Guitar Players (You’ll want to login to RGS).
Warm it up.
It's definitely helpful to start your practice with something easy as a warm-up routine. But let’s not stop there.
In addition to having a warm-up routine try warming up the room a bit to make it easier on your muscles. I'm not talking to the point of sweating like in a Hot Yoga class. Just a few degrees warmer than normal.
I've also had students that warm up their hands by dipping them in warm water for a few minutes. I haven't tried this one myself but it does make sense.
One thing I do is massage my fingers. I had one teacher recommend using pain cream to massage the hand and fingers at the beginning of a practice session. I wouldn't want to get too reliant on that but it's another tool to use to keep on practicing.
Lighten it up.
One of the biggest improvements I've made is to put lighter strings on my acoustic guitar. I've always played with light gauge strings (gauge .12 - .53). About a year ago I read an article about a player I admire that uses extra lights (.10 - .47). I decided to try them and I've never looked back. It's relieved a lot of the pain in my left hand and made playing my acoustic more fun.
I'll admit that for a long time I thought playing with lighter strings was cheating. At the minimum it would destroy that sound of my acoustic. It's not cheating and the sound is fine. I did have to adjust my playing a little bit. It took some time to learn to strum and pick with less force with my right hand. Now I'm accustomed to them and I'm glad I gave it a try.
That’s all I have for now.
What has worked for you? Leave a comment below so others can share your experience.