Correct Guitar Posture: Tips for Good Health | Hub Guitar

Correct Guitar Posture: Tips for Good Health

Note: Hub Guitar assumes no responsibility for this advice. This advice comes from anecdotal experience, not empirical evidence, and is offered ex gratia, without liability.

What is “correct posture” for playing guitar?

There has been a bit of back-and-forth about optimal posture.

Perhaps part of the confusion stems from this: there are many postures, including some very unstable ones, which are healthy in certain amounts but if they are practiced repeatedly they can lead to pain and other problems.

Much of the advice we see about posture seems to focus on the “correct position” and ignore the fact that health problems from bad posture are caused by spending long periods of time in a certain posture—bad form itself is not the only culprit.

Some questions of posture may be avoided entirely simply by changing your posture periodically. If you have discomfort or are concerned about your posture, you may consider switching between sitting and standing when you practice. Especially if you sit all day for work or school, standing may be the best option.

Having said that, here are a few general tips.

Posture Tips for Guitar Players

Everyone is different

Do you suffer from spinal any spinal abnormality such as kyphosisAn abnormal curve in the upper back which can cause the appearance of a hunched back and can result in pain., lordosisAn abnormal curve in the lower spine causing pain and discomfort., or scoliosisA spine which, regardless of the contour of its curve, appears crooked when viewed from the front or back.? For people with this type of condition, a supposedly “correct” posture might cause considerable pain.

If there is anything atypical about your size, shape, or bone structure, your body may have special requirements, so you will have to learn for yourself what kind of posture works best for you in the long term.

Get comfortable

One of the easiest ways to avoid posture problems is to listen to your body and ask yourself if you’re comfortable. Noticing your discomfort quickly will help you to make adjustments. It’s likely that positions that are more comfortable are also better for you overall. Discomfort caused by poor posture is often so subtle that it passes beneath our notice, until we've injured ourselves.

Avoid marathon practice sessions

If you want to practice for 90 minutes in one day, it’s best to break it down to two 45-minute sections if at all possible. If that’s not possible, a 15 minute break in the middle can be helpful. Many students are not practicing enough that this becomes a problem, but it’s worth considering especially if you’re practicing a lot or if you tend to be a “weekend warrior.”

Change positions

There are not a huge amount of positions available for practicing guitar, but you may find that rotating between them is helpful. For instance, you might stand for the first half of the practice session and sit for the second half. See this lesson about how to hold the guitar for more examples of correct guitar positions.

Injuries are not just caused by “bad” posture, but by excessive time spent one position. Mixing it up can help you to avoid an injury.

Look at your environment

Your environment predicts your behavior. The height, shape and position of your tables desks, music stand and chairs has a big effect. The position of your computer or other accessories matters too. Think about what’s the best setup for your practice and try to build an environment that supports it.

Use good seating

Your bed is not a chair. Your couch or sofa are probably no better. And your office chair may be great for typing but horrible for practice. A proper chair is fairly easy to come by, so don’t let this become a habit.

Practicing in an office chair can, in some cases, cause posture problems and back pain— especially if the chair has arms on it.

Some of the best chairs for practice are the simple folding kind. They’re the appropriate height to let your feet touch the floor, and their shape doesn’t push you into an awkward position.

Check your eyesight

Are you leaning forward to read the music? Could it be that you need a pair of reading glasses? In some countries, virtually everyone uses some form of vision correction. In other unnamed territories, we might resist and say “My vision is fine!” and maybe it is, for most purposes, but why not have it checked?

Get a strap

A guitar strap helps to support the guitar and makes it easier to play whether sitting or standing. It is best to wear a strap in all positions, both sitting and standing, if you find it comfortable. A strap also allows you to stand up and sit down easily, even while in the middle of playing. Consider the Lock-It Guitar Strap[?]Affiliate Link for adding support.

Try Yoga or Alexander Technique

People who practice Yoga or Alexander Technique report improved awareness of their posture. You may find some benefit in this as well. Consider giving this a try if you feel you have any postural problems.

Ergonomic Guitar Postures

Standing

Note that the strap is basically mandatory for standing position.

Especially if you sit for long periods throughout the day, why not practice guitar standing up? Every bit of standing you do helps to counteract the effects of excessive sitting.

A standing posture gives you maximum freedom and mobility. Over time, this will show up in your playing.

Sitting

Although not necessary, a guitar strap will help stabilize the position of the guitar, and is recommended for sitting.

Most guitar players are comfortable playing while seated.

Reclining

Some people have back problems that prevent them from being able to stand or sit with the spine erect for long periods of time. If this applies to you, consider practicing in the reclining position.

The reclining position may remove some of the energy and flexibility from your playing, but it is perfectly possible to practice guitar while reclining in a chair.

A modest recline can be helpful for the back, especially if the legs are crossed. But beware of neck strain.

Recommended Products

Consider buying an Alexander Technique Book[?]Affiliate Link and learning more about Alexander Technique.

Key Points

  • Posture is important.
  • Bad posture can hurt your playing—and your body.
  • Switch things up every 30-60 minutes to avoid spending too much time in any pose.

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