I get asked a bit about arthritis prevention and guitar playing by students.
Mostly how can I help people become better guitarists when they suffer from it?
As many of you know, arthritis is not a pleasant thing to suffer from.
I am no doctor and don’t give medical advice on such things, but one thing I preach is that prevention is better than cure – this applies to arthritis prevention when playing the guitar as well.
It can’t be a pleasant experience trying to play guitar with painful fingers and reduced joint mobility – especially if it prevents you from playing what you could previously.
I have seen this happen to some students/friends, and it is sad to see.
In case you don’t know, there are two types of arthritis – rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
The latter is far more common (14% of people in the UK suffer from it).
So, what is the main cause of osteoarthritis?
According to the NHS…
Injures and repeated stress on the joint.
As guitarists, we have dozens of opportunities to injure ourselves daily and many guitarists play for hours each week with stress on their joints.
Sometimes injuries can be big, like when something goes “pop”.
Most of the time they’re minor little niggles, but these are the ones that add up over time.
That is one of the reasons why I am so huge on ensuring you play with good technique, a light touch, effortless motions, and stress/pain-free playing. This will help with your playing and can help with arthritis prevention.
As well as doing the above, if you want to protect your hands, joints, and tendons, you should also properly warm-up before you play.
Yet, I rarely see this encouraged.
Even when I do see the odd warmup routine on the internet, most are too vigorous where they teach students to…
Dive headfirst into a scale or do some wild and outlandish fretboard stretching exercise.
All of these things are okay if you are warmed up and your fingers are ready to go, but…
They can be terrible if your hands are stiff as old boots left out in the Antarctic snow.
Cold hands and tricky exercises = a recipe for injury
Always, always get your fingers and hands warmed up if they are stiff and cold.
I call this a “Pre-Warmup”, and it is an important but not talked about aspect of guitar playing.
I think that should change, so I recorded a video on the exact routine I teach to students.
A Pre-Warmup only needs to take a few minutes to do and is time well spent.
You can certainly create your own warmup, but if you want one that is ready-made for you and…
Relaxing, short, and pleasurable, then you can get my new video lesson on it…
Ensure you get yourself a good “Pre-Warmup” routine where your hands and fingers are physically warmer, gently stretched, nimbler, looser, and ready to play.
Doing so can help prevent injury and therefore things like osteoarthritis in the long term.
Have a great day and remember to keep those fingers nimble.
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.