**The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.**
If you spend a lot of time playing your guitar, it’s likely that you suffer from posture issues.
You know what it’s like – you want to make sure you’re sitting with great posture, but you get so into the groove of things that you can’t help but focus only on your music.
While it doesn’t completely fix the problem, making sure you have a guitar with good action and playability is important. If your frets are difficult to press, you’re more likely to lean into your guitar playing position while you play, which can cause long-term posture issues.
If you’re new to playing guitar, it’s important to invest money in getting the best beginner guitar you can buy to avoid posture issues that are a result of a tight grip or difficulty reaching the frets.
These things do help, but it’s nearly impossible to play guitar with perfect posture all of the time. I’ve been playing guitar for years now, and continue to suffer with tightened muscles that pull my shoulder too far forward, making it hard to stand up perfectly straight.
I went to a physical therapist for help on this recently and to help other guitarists fix their posture issues, I’m sharing the 5 stretches and exercises that my physical therapist had me do, and how to perform them.
5 Stretches for Guitarists to Fix Posture Problems
This stretch targets the pec-minor – the muscle connecting the shoulder to the front of the rib cage. When this muscle is too tight, your shoulder will be pulled forward out of its proper position.
How to perform the doorway stretch:
- Stand at a doorway with your forearms on the doorframe and your elbows bent 90 degrees.
- Keep your back straight and step forward with one leg, and lean into the doorway.
You should feel the stretch deep within your chest.
Shoulder Blade Retract/Depress
This one focuses on developing the muscles in your back that keep your shoulder blades in place.
How to perform the shoulder blade retract/depress:
- Lie face down with a towel between the floor and your forehead.
- Place your arms overhead with a slight bend in your elbows.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and downward.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Relax and repeat.
Face Down Shoulder Glides
This stretch basically forces your shoulders backwards and stretches all muscles responsible for pulling your shoulders forward.
How to perform face down shoulder glides:
- Lie face down propped up on your elbows.
- Relax your shoulder muscles, leaning between your arms.
Your shoulder blades should come together and your shoulders should be forced backward as you perform this stretch.
This isn’t the one you’re thinking of that works as a strengthening exercise for your back. Instead, we’re focusing on shoulder blade retractions.
How to perform the superman stretch:
- Lie face down with a towel between your forehead and the floor.
- Place arms straight out in front of you with your thumbs up.
- Lift your arms off the floor, and squeeze your shoulder blades together and downward.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Relax and repeat.
Side-Lying Posterior Capsule Stretch
This stretch improves the range of motion of your shoulder joint by targeting the soft tissues of the shoulder joint.
How to perform the side-lying posterior capsule stretch:
- Lie on your side with your bottom arm on the floor straight out in front of your body. (So if you’re lying on your left side, your left arm should be out in front of you)
- Bend your elbow 90 degrees so that your forearm is straight up in the air.
- Use the other arm to gently push your forearm down toward the floor.
You should feel this stretch in your shoulder within the socket area.
The best way to improve your posture is to maintain proper posture while playing the guitar, but as you get more focused on your playing, you end up losing concentration on your posture.
The stretches above can help you take corrective action against poor posture. My physical therapist had me perform these stretches and it definitely helped.
It’s also important to spend more time doing standing activities. As a musician, spending time playing and recording often involves sitting down. Instead of practicing your guitar in a seated position, try standing. If you’re heavily involved in the recordings of your own music, consider outsourcing the mixing and mastering portion so you can spend less time at your desk.