guitar playing tennis elbowStrumming a 6 string and playing guitar is a favourite pastime and hobby of many people.  For others, guitar playing is career or profession which they depend on to earn a living, put food on the table and pay the bills.

But did you know that after many years of playing guitar you could develop a nasty elbow injury called tennis elbow?  Let me explain…

Before you write me off and think I’m bonkers, tennis elbow just doesn’t affect tennis players.  It’s nothing more than a name that has been used to identify this very common elbow condition.

If you look at what is physically involved to play a guitar, you’ll soon understand how easy it is to develop tennis elbow.

First you need to hold your guitar with a tight grip.  Upper hand on the neck of the guitar, with fingers at the ready to select your chord.  Lower or bottom hand ready to strum the guitar, perhaps holding a pick  between your thumb and index finger.

As you strum the guitar strings and play your chords, all of the tiny small muscles in your fingers all the way down your forearm and into your elbow are under strain and pressure.  The actual playing of the guitar requires pin point precision and accuracy to make beautiful sounding music.

We never really pay much attention to how fast all these muscles and tendons have to fire in order for you to transition from one chord to the next, not to mention the pace at which you need to strum your guitar.

Overtime, the constant squeezing down and gripping of the strings can cause your forearm flexor and extensor tendons to develop small micro tears.

To be more specific, when you perform the repetitive action of gripping down on the head of your guitar and strum the strings with a pick, the extensor tendon that attaches at your elbow can begin to swell and become inflamed.  Eventually, as you ignore these symptoms, it will develop into a tear.  This is when your elbow pain will be at it’s worst.  The pain maybe so bad that you won’t even be able to play the guitar.

Before you get to the point of a tear, if you have some elbow inflammation and swelling right now, you should be icing your arm – especially when you’ve finished playing guitar for the night.  Ice your injured arm for 10 minutes, twice a day for a minimum of 3 days.  You should notice a considerable decrease in the swelling and pain.  If you’re not interested in going back and forth to the freezer for ice, check out tennis elbow ice wraps – they are quite effective and easy to use.

There is no doubt that your elbow pain will simply not go away unless you lay down the guitar for at least 3 days.  The good news is that you don’t have to just sit around and wait for the days to go by.  The worst thing you could do is put on an elbow brace or immobilize your elbow altogether.  Your injured arm needs a good supply of blood in order to accelerate the repair process.  Don’t fall into the trap of wearing an elbow brace – it’s a complete waste of money and time.

There are specific tennis elbow exercises that will help strengthen your injured elbow tendon and damaged muscles.  The best part is that you can do them at home, sitting on the couch watching TV.

Watch the short video presentation, where you will discover just how simple but effective these 5 tennis elbow techniques are – so you get back playing guitar and tearing up your 6 string in no time!

playing guitar elbow tennis

2 Responses to Why Guitar Playing Can Lead to Tennis Elbow

  1. inty says:

    I played guitar for 18 years, mostly metal. After coming into some money after a few years break I bought some new guitars and decided to studyvery hard and learn new techniques. I managed to get tennis elbow and golfers elbow in my right arm. Has been years now and it still has not fully healed, I can no longer play guitar at all :(

    ‘no pain, no gain’ is a bad saying, do some stretches before hand, standing with a strap is better than sitting, if it starts to hurt, put it down. Hopefully I get to play again

  2. Mike says:

    Hi. It is the first time i have heard that playing guitar can lead to tennis elbow. Sometimes i have problem with my neck but it is becouse i play many hours without any break.

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