Why Guitar Playing and Tennis Elbow Go Hand in Hand

tennis elbow from playing guitar


Can you really get tennis elbow from playing the guitar or is it a myth?

The short answer is yes but read on to learn exactly what is involved and get steps on how to avoid it from happening to you.

The guitar is arguably the most played and recognizable instrument in the world.

It doesn’t matter if you play at a Professional level or are simply a weekend warrior, too much of a good thing is bound to cause problems.

And this applies to playing your guitar.

If you have noticed a little pain on the outside of your elbow recently, then it’s time to sit up and take notice.

Otherwise your days of strumming that old six string will be numbered.

Tennis elbow is a nasty injury that affects the lateral side of your elbow.

Just because it is called tennis elbow, doesn’t mean that you have to be a tennis player to get it.

What all tennis elbow injuries have in common, is the way in which it manifests.

Performing repetitive actions and movements with your arm over and over again.

Taking into account what is physically required to play your guitar, it’s easy to see how tennis elbow can impact your playing and have you take time off.

It is vital that you know how to hold your guitar properly.

In a nutshell, it goes a little like this:

Step 1: Hold your guitar with a tight grip.

Step 2: Your upper hand on the neck of the guitar, with fingers at the ready to select your chord.

Step 3: Strumming hand ready to strum your guitar, perhaps holding a pick  between your thumb and index finger.

Step 4: Play

When you begin to play your guitar, all of the tiny small muscles in your fingers all the way up your forearm and into your elbow are called upon to make swift, short movements.

As you continue with your song, you are constantly changing chords which requires pin point precision and accuracy to make stunning tones and notes.

Most people rarely ever pay much attention or give any thought as 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.

Tennis elbow rarely develops over night.

It is an injury that takes some time to develop.

Chances are you had some early warning signs but simply shrugged them off as nothing serious.

But after many months or even years of the constant squeezing down and gripping of the guitar neck and strings has caused your forearm extensor muscles and extensor tendons to tear apart.

When squeezing and gripping down on the head of your guitar combined with the constant strumming, your extensor tendon which attaches at your arm bone at your elbow in under severe strain and pressure.

As time goes by, it starts to become swollen and inflamed.  This is when you start to experience pain to a point that it interferes with your guitar playing.

The danger lyes in not paying attention to even the smallest amount of outside elbow pain.

Doing so will result in a full blown tear and the worst case scenario if you don’t take proactive measures is that the tendon could actually tear away from the bone.

A compete tear of this tendon requires surgery in order to fix it.

It’s not uncommon for guitar players to have such severe elbow pain that they can’t even pick up their guitar, let alone play it.

The last thing you want is for your extensor tendon to tear and cause you problems.

Over the first couple of weeks of your tennis elbow injury, it is common to have signs of inflammation and swelling.

There are some basic stretches that can help with your forearm and elbow pain.

Here is a video that goes through a couple:

The best thing you can do right now to help decrease pain and swelling is apply ice to your affected arm twice a day for 10 minutes.

It’s even more important to apply ice before and after playing your guitar.

This is basic first aid and pain relief should be almost immediate but …

You are not out of the woods yet!

If anyone tells you that simply taking a few days off from playing your guitar will fully heal your tennis elbow then let me tell you from 7 years of fighting tennis elbow – they are wrong!

Yes of course time away will help with your symptoms but it will not help build the strength back up in your injured tendon.

Without addressing the strength problem, tennis elbow can never be fully healed and you will only go around in circles of pain-no pain-pain, etc.

As for other obstacles that can prevent you from fully recovering, elbow braces and straps.

I am begging you not to waste your time and money on theses useless devices.

They only restrict blood supply and give a false sense of hope.

This is a huge no-no and where most people go off the rails in their recovery.

Immobilizing your injured arm is by far the worst thing you can do.

So now that you know you need specific exercises to help strengthen your damaged extensor tendon and muscles

Click here to learn 5 simple techniques you can do at home right now that will kick start your fully recovery from tennis elbow and get you back playing guitar.


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