When playing guitar, do you find your hands and fingers start to hurt either when you start playing or after you’ve been jamming for an excessive amount of time? If so, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
It’s common knowledge that musicians need to ‘break their hands and fingers in’ when playing guitar, something that comes through experience and continuous play, but what can you do in the meantime?
Today we’re going to explore five ways you can reduce any hand and finger pain you may be feeling, helping you get through the first few months until you’ve developed a guitarist’s skin.
1. Start Using Lighter Strings
When starting out, the chances are you’re using the guitar strings that came with your guitar. While these are normally ideal for creating the music you want to create, especially if you’re learning, they may be the cause of pain for your fingers.
Instead, shop online or visit your local guitar shop and see what lighter guitar strings they have. Lighter strings are available for both acoustic and electric guitars and will be much less painful than heavier strings.
2. Warm Up Before You Play
Just like you would when exercising at the gym or before going on a run, warming up your hands and fingers before you play can be a great way to reduce any pain and pressure you may be prone to feeling. Thankfully, you can warm up any way you want.
You don’t even have to dedicate time to your warm up. Start off by sitting comfortably on your guitar chair, and playing your guitar slowly for the first 10 – 15 minutes. Start with easy chords and techniques just to get into the rhythm of things and then gradually build up your play until you’re jamming out as normal. You’ll feel the difference almost immediately.
3. Practice Your Technique
When you’re starting out on guitar, it’s easy to fall into bad habits, especially if you’re teaching yourself and you have nobody to tell you otherwise. Make sure you’re investing time in practicing the technique of how you play to make sure it’s perfect.
Of course, there are plenty of different techniques out there to choose from, but it’s a good idea to test out a few to see what works best for you, and then keep revisiting it to make sure you’re doing it right. Beginner Guitar HQ has a useful guide to increasing speed on the guitar.
Over time, this will then become a habit, and you’ll be capable without revision in the long-term. Until then, make sure you keep practicing and returning to the technique, rather than jumping straight into learning new chords and pieces of music.
4. Holding the String Close to the Fret
Whenever you see a guitarist playing, you’ll notice how they hold their fingers in the middle of the fretboard, which is how most musicians are taught to play. However, pressing there requires much more downward pressure, ultimately causing more pressure on your fingers.
The simple solution here is to practice holding the string closer to the fret. Since you’ll need to push down using less force, there’ll be less on your fingers, ensuring it’s far more comfortable to play.
5. Use Guitar Finger Caps or Gloves
If the pain on your fingers is too much and it’s putting you off your style of play, there are plenty of options out there that can actively reduce the pain you’re feeling. If your fingers are hurting, try wearing a pair of finger caps, which can be found for an affordable price online.
If your hands are hurting, there are also plenty of guitar-based gloves that won’t inhibit your style of play but will make it much more comfortable and pain-free while you’re playing. However, you should only use this option as worst-case scenario.
This is because playing with your bare fingers and hands will help you develop the hardened skin that forms over time through regular practice. However, wearing these gloves or caps creates a barrier where this skin will form much slower, and you may become reliant on them.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can reduce finger and hand pain while you’re playing the guitar. The most important thing to remember is to not let the pain put you off, as it’s guaranteed to get better over time with regular practice.
However, listen to your body and don’t put yourself in any pain or cause injury if you don’t need to. Your well-being should always come first, no matter what you’re doing in life.
About the Author
Music, sports, and blogging – that’s pretty much it for Gavin Whitner. A passionate musician, Gavin currently plays the guitar for his alt-rock band, and blogs at MusicOomph about musical instruments, accessories and other audio gear.