A Practical Guide for Preventing Back Pain While Playing Guitar

A Practical Guide for Preventing Back Pain While Playing Guitar

practice and mindset Apr 29, 2018

Guest post by Gavin Whitner

Whether you prefer to sit or stand while you’re playing your guitar, it’s so important to look after your body and well-being. For example, if you’re playing for extended periods of time, it’s easy to find yourself in a posture or position that will ultimately cause you back pain and even long-term damage.

However, by becoming mindful of how you hold your guitar, the way you sit and other posture-related techniques, you can effectively prevent back pain from developing now and in the future, as well as reducing any back pain you may be currently feeling while you play.

Today, we’re going to explore several ways you can prevent back pain, providing you with everything you need to know when it comes to looking after yourself, and ultimately getting the most out of your guitar playing experience.


Sitting Properly


The most common posture for playing guitar will mean that you’re sitting down; which means you’ll want the right posture to alleviate the risks of back pain. The most important thing to remember here is to stick your chest out in front of you.

This will help you stay aware of how straight your back is and will help you correctly arch your lower back. Also, try to remember to lift your hips out of your waist, elongating your spine and making sure you reduce the risk of slouching.


Be Mindful of Your Shoulders


Our shoulders one of the main places in our back where stress and tension from sitting incorrectly are going to be held, so paying attention to it and making sure they’re positioned properly will have a dramatic effect on whether you suffer from back pain or not.

Naturally, our shoulders can raise when they’re tense, and most of the time you won’t even notice when they do. All you need to do to reduce this being a problem is to drop your shoulders gently and allow them to relax, reducing the risk of tension in your back.


Hold Your Guitar Closer to You

Whether you’re sitting or standing while you’re playing your guitar, it’s easy to get into bad habits, and you may find yourself holding your guitar further away from your body than it needs to be. This is only going to cause you to slouch and bend your back.



This, of course, results in an abnormally bent back which can stress your spine and cause long-term back pain. The simple solution here is simply to bring your guitar closer to you and allow your back to remain straight.


Avoid Slouching

As you can see from many of these considerations, the main cause of back pain is simply by slouching for long periods of time. While we’ve addressed many of the reasons why you may slouch, there are so many reasons why this can happen, so it’s important you’re paying attention to when it happens.

If you ever feel like your back is causing you a problem or it’s feeling uncomfortable, straighten your back and roll your shoulders back to ‘reset’ your body. Alternatively, you could invest in a stool or chair made for guitarists that can help you easily maintain a correct posture.


Take a Break

The majority of back pain problems will be caused because you’re sitting in a bad posture for long or excessive periods of time. A simple way to reduce the problems, even while you’re practicing your techniques, is to take a break every now and then.

Ideally, you’re going to want to practice for around 30-40 minutes at a time and then taking a ten-minute break. During this time, it’s important to get up and move around, perhaps referring to your music or getting a drink, just to make sure your back isn’t sat for a long time in a poor position.




Another great way to keep yourself clear from back pain, and just to keep yourself fit all together, is to exercise properly. If you already exercise regularly, like running or you go to a gym, simply incorporate back stretches into your regular routine.

If you don’t regularly exercise, even practicing yoga for ten minutes a day or going for a brief walk can be enough to help de-stress your back and prevent any problems in the future.


Guest post by Gavin Whitner

Gavin Whitner is a guitar player, composer and songwriter with an immense love for sports. He also blogs at MusicOomph about all things music.


BONUS: Video blog on posture

Here's a recent video where we discuss what to do and what not to do with your posture as a guitarist for optimal efficiency of your playing. Check it out!


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