The Importance of Posture

There are countless guitar players who suffer from back, shoulder or neck pain, 'golfer's' or 'tennis' elbow, tendonitis etc. Many believe that repetitive strain injuries such as these only happen to players who don't warm-up properly. However, although warming-up is important, the bodies posture during playing is equally important if such problems are to be avoided.
We must try to have our heads upright and correctly aligned. Most people's head has a forward lean through bad postural habits, including their guitar playing . For each inch that the head moves forward from it's resting position it adds the weight of the head to the neck extensor muscles. The head weighs 8% of the body weight, so a 100lb person with a 2 inch forward lean of the head has a 16 pound of weight on their neck extensor muscles all day. It is very common for people to have a forward head carriage of around 3 inches, which is 3 times the weight of the head added to the neck extensors!
Irregularities in the spine can manifest in various ways, affecting other limbs, for example a lower back problem may cause pain in the legs.

So what can we do?

We must take charge of our health and learn good posture, and stay active (a lot of guitar players are very sedentary) Here is a list of things that can help avoid postural problems:

  • Learn about human posture, and start to improve ourselves
  • Take regular exercise
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Practice guitar standing up
  • Practice guitar into a mirror-looking too much at the guitar is bad for posture, eyesight, and looks unprofessional
  • If seated, try the guitar over the left leg, or an ergonomic guitar rest. I use these for Spanish guitar
  • Stretch regularly, especially if practising for long periods (hours) 
Above all, however much we love playing the guitar, sitting down with poor posture is NOT a natural position for our bodies to be in for any period of time.

Martyn