7 Awesome Tips For Better Guitar Hand Stretches

Flexibility is important for guitarists, and developing a good routine of guitar hand stretches helps us shred longer! Let’s discuss!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • 7 tips for better guitar hand stretches
  • The positive effects of stretching on your mind, body and playing
  • Why you should stretch your whole arm and not just the hands
  • How to develop a daily stretching routine

Guitar Hand Stretches Keep Us Flexible

The most difficult part of being a guitarist is staying limber and flexible at all times. 

  • It’s hard to keep our hands, forearms and wrists in good standing when we use our hands for everything.
  • When it comes to guitar playing however, we don’t have much of a choice. We can risk heavy discomfort or injury if we don’t prep our hands for playing.

Staying flexible is the key to effective guitar playing, and we’ve got seven guitar hand stretches and strategies that will save you some serious discomfort.

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Why It’s Important To Maintain A Good Stretch Routine

If you think about it, it doesn’t matter what you do for a living – your hands are part of your everyday life and routines.

  • If you work at an office, chances are you’re typing in one position a lot.
  • If you work construction, you’re lifting often.
  • If you’re a student, you’re writing and probably hunched over your desk.

If you’re a musician – you get the idea.

The point is that no matter what we do, we build up stress in our hands, wrists and forearms on a regular basis.

As this stress and tension builds up, we need to release it or we risk injury.

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By developing a proper routine of guitar hand stretches, we greatly reduce the risk of accidentally hurting ourselves (and trust us, it can happen easier than you might think).

If your forearms are already wound up with tension, it can be very easy to injure the tendons as a result of over-exertion.

Guitar hand stretches help to level the playing field between practice and pain.

Pro Tip: Many of these exercises below can be done without the use of a guitar!

  • When you get up in the morning, try some of these guitar hand stretches as you greet the day.
  • Not only will you prepare yourself for the guitar, but you’ll also get the blood flowing throughout your body. This is important!

Next, let’s talk about comfort level.

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Don’t Do Anything That Makes You Uncomfortable!

Precisely!

You may find that some these guitar hand exercises put some strain in places that may or may not be comfortable for you – that’s okay!

  • Everyone’s body is different and what may be comfortable for one person might not be for you.
  • Don’t measure yourself against other players.
  • You should never feel pressured to try a stretch that you feel could result in discomfort.

We’ve outlined some of our favourite guitar hand stretches below, but you can feel free to mix them up to your liking.

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Pro Tip: Listen to your body! You will know what is too much for you by your body’s reaction. If you feel a snag or a pull somewhere unusual, stop stretching immediately.

Try to keep a good sized bottle of water nearby while you practice and stretch, as hydration helps us stay focused and alert!

We don’t need to focus on intense stretching for any of this – we just want to lightly pull the muscles so they can stretch and unwind.

Now, let’s get started!

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Guitar Hand Stretches I – Start At The Shoulders

To start with, we’re going to ease into some shoulder rolls.

  • You can do these in both directions, but make sure to bring your shoulders up close to your ears and let them down slowly as you roll them forward or backward.
  • Shoulder rolls help us to loosen up, so they’re always a good place to start.

From there, we can begin to really open the shoulders up.

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Begin by bringing your left arm behind your head with your elbow facing up.

  • Let your fingers inch down the center of your back until you can feel the pull.
  • With your right hand, grab your elbow and pull softly to the right while leaning to the right.
  • You should feel this from your shoulder to your hand.

What we’re doing is opening up the muscles at the shoulder so that blood can flow easily to the hands. We’re also increasing our flexibility by stretching first at the shoulder before reaching the hands.

Shoulder exercises are a great warm-up for guitar hand stretches that will leave us feeling limber!

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Guitar Hand Stretches II – Across The Chest

The next in this series of guitar hand stretches sees us bringing our arm across our chest to stretch the shoulder itself. 

  • This stretch might seem to only stretch the shoulder, but it actually opens up the flexibility in our hands and fingers incredibly well.
  • Cross your left arm across your chest just below the chin, and grab your left shoulder with your right hand. Pull gently to the right, and turn to the right slowly.

You’ll begin to feel the muscles tug within your shoulder and down your left side.

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You should hold this position for roughly ten seconds before releasing back to the left.

Repeat this exercise for the right side and do some shoulder shrugs after to release any extra tension.

Remember: Everything is connected! In order to get the most out of our hands when playing guitar, we should always focus on stretching the whole arm and not just the hands.

An effective stretching routine can add years onto our ability to play guitar.

As you progress on your guitar journey, you may find that guitar hand stretches become necessary to keep progressing and building your chops.

Never decline your muscles the chance to grow – it will only benefit you in the long run!

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Guitar Hand Stretches III – Arms Outstretched

This is an important part of our stretching routine, so don’t skip this section!

  • You can begin this series of guitar hand stretches by pointing your fingers outward and holding your arms out, fully extended at a 90-degree angle.
  • Start by wiggling your fingertips and stretching them out as far as they will reach.
  • From there, grab the four fingertips of your left hand with your right, and pull back until you feel a light stretch in your wrist. Hold for ten seconds.

You can then do this same stretch with the thumb, feeling the stretch more in the inside of your forearm.

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The final phase of these guitar hand stretches is to stretch the top of your forearm.

  • With arms still outstretched, grab the end of your left hand at the wrist and push your hand down so that your fingers point toward your forearm.
  • You should feel this stretch in the top of the forearm.

Repeat these guitar hand stretches for both hands, holding each stretch for 10 seconds. End off by shaking it out.

Pro Tip: If you are in a rush and only have time to do one of these guitar hand stretches, do this one.

This stretch helps elongate the forearm muscles and release any built-up tension.

This makes it an ideal last-minute stretch before practice, rehearsals or even hopping on stage!

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Guitar Hand Stretches IV – Ask Your Wall For Help

Do you have a wall in your house? 

Good, otherwise you’d have problems when it rains.

  • Besides keeping out the elements, walls are great for helping us with a variety of guitar hand stretches.
  • An outward-facing corner wall is perfect for this next exercise.
  • With your right arm outstretched at a 90-degree angle (or as close as you can get) grab the corner with your fingertips.

Turn away from your arm to face left, and you will feel the pull in your right shoulder and side.

This is a great exercise for opening up better blood flow to the hands. Repeat this for the left hand and hold each side for roughly 10-15 seconds.

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Pro Tip: We’ve said it once but we’ll say it again, don’t proceed if you are feeling discomfort anywhere.

  • A good routine of guitar hand stretches will leave us feeling energized, a bad stretching routine will leave us feeling hurt or potentially over-extended in a specific muscle group.
  • Be mindful, and always listen to your body!
  • If you want to see a variety of other shoulder stretches that can really help open up your muscles, click here for an eight-minute routine with Caroline Jordan.

This lady really knows how to open up the body, so bookmark this routine!

While you’re at it, bookmark this one too!

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Guitar Hand Stretches V – Mix In Some Movement

Movement is awesome!

Whether it’s going for a run, doing yoga or a (surprisingly energizing) Qi Gong shaking routine, movement helps us in so many ways.

Mixing some movement into our guitar hand stretches routine can help stimulate better blood flow, making it easier for us to play guitar effectively.

Jumping jacks are a great and easy way to get us feeling energized.

As silly as it may sound, mixing 20 of these into your warm-up routine will make a difference, especially as you venture forward.

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Writer’s Tip: Jumping jacks are a necessary part of my warm-up. Not only do they stimulate blood flow, but they get your heart rate up a bit in the process. Whether I’m rehearsing at home or about to hit the stage, I make sure to mix in at least ten of these.

  • Many guitar hand stretches involve the whole body, and it’s important to make sure that we don’t just focus on our hands alone.
  • Arm windmills are another great way to limber up before practising or performing – just make sure you’re not around a crowd of people or any expensive belongings.

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Guitar Hand Stretches VI – The Chromatic Scale

For the entirety of this lesson, we’ve focused on guitar hand stretches off the guitar. We’ve done this because it’s important to understand how easy it is to limber-up without an instrument.

  • We did want to leave you with one exercise that you can perform on your guitar for added dexterity and finger strength – the chromatic scale!
  • This is a basic exercise that helps us develop finger independence, and serves as a great set of guitar hand stretches at a higher speed.
  • The chromatic scale is one that will constantly challenge us, no matter what level of guitar we play at. If this exercise becomes too easy, start practicing with a metronome.

Once you master one tempo, bump it up and conquer the next one!

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Pro Tip: Practicing any riff or finger exercise at varying speeds helps us build finger strength and endurance – another practical component of guitar playing.

This is the beauty of guitar playing.

  • When you believe you’ve mastered something, you can always bump the tempo up and play it at a higher speed, presenting a new challenge for you to conquer.
  • Once you’ve done your set of warm-up guitar hand stretches like the ones we’ve listed above, take the time to challenge yourself with higher tempos.
  • The metronome can be off-putting to those who aren’t used to playing with it.

Once we have adjusted to the pace of it however, we will find ourselves improving at a steadier (and possibly quicker) speed. Never stop finding new ways to practice!

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Guitar Hand Stretches VII – Make It A Daily Routine!

Consistency is the key!

It’s a great idea to consider daily stretching as part of your wake-up routine. Stretching can give us a much-needed boost of energy when we wake up.

Before you have your morning cup of coffee, have a glass of water and stretch.

Even if you’re not planning on playing guitar until after school or work, stretching can give you a mental boost that will help you throughout the day.

Stretching is for everyone, not just guitar players!

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It takes a minimum of 21 days for a new habit to form, so try incorporating stretching into your morning routine on a daily basis until it becomes second nature.

Stretching can have tons of positive effects of our body and our mind. Apart from keeping us limber, stretching helps us stay focused – something that is just as important as flexibility.

To read about 9 benefits of stretching, check out this awesome article from HealthLine.com!

Where Do I Go From Here?

Want more out of your guitar hand stretches? We recommend the following:

  • Check out this article from Seymour Duncan Pickups on stretching
  • Or this article here by Guitar Player Magazine
  • Learn the four basic stretches for avoiding injury here
  • Watch this video on finger & upper extremity stretches for musicians!

Recommended Resources

If you loved this guide to guitar hand stretches, we’ve got plenty more content in store for you below!

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