Technique, Warm ups, and Injury Prevention

Technique, Warm ups, and Injury Prevention


Introduction by John Wunsch, Owner of Strings By Mail, experienced performer, and retired guitar instructor of the Interlochen Center For The Arts:

In my years as a performer and teacher I saw far too many players who failed to follow good warm up practices, maintain good technique, or who pushed themselves past the ability to remain careful and alert and failed to heed warning signs. Taking care and acting sensibly will go far to allow for a long and healthy career. By adding awareness of our current limits when using any of the excellent technique books on the market we can pace ourselves to avoid injury, or allow it to heal when it occurs. Even when working with the best technique regimen we need be alert and well rested and allow our skills to develop over time and never cause pain or strain.


Proper technique will not only help shape you into a better player, it will also help keep you from picking up bad playing habits that can cause injury over time.

Crispin CampbellMatt Palmer Not all stringed instruments are created the same, and some instruments are naturally less ergonomic by design.  Whether these instruments are created with a form follows function, or a function follows form approach, the human beings that play these creations must often perform unique and repetitive body movements that are very different and unique from the normal body movements we use in the other areas of our daily lives.

A great place to begin when being proactive about injury prevention is during the musician’s warm ups, or practices. Similar to an Olympic runner performing their stretches before a race, or an NBA basketball player shooting baskets before a game, musicians need to properly warm up, stretch, and condition their muscles, joint, ligaments, and mind before their performance.

“No pain, no gain” is not good advice for musicians. There are many musicians (especially in orchestra environments) who are competing for their chance to play. They may choose to play through the pain to retain their spot, or push themselves too hard when practicing.

Similar to how “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” affects many people in the work force that perform repetitive tasks with their hand/wrists for long periods of time over many years, injuries to musicians can occur from these same repetitions. Most of these injuries are musculo-skeletal and neurological in nature, which make many of these injuries difficult to diagnose and repair, even with today’s medicine, technology, physical therapy, and specialized surgical know how.

Strings By Mail has added many great pieces of literature to our inventory that touch on the important subjects of proper technique, warm ups, practicing, and injury prevention.


The Art of Practicing

The Art of Practicing by Alice Artzt provides a guide of sorts to help develop technical precision and efficiency. Common difficulties are analyzed and reduced to their simplest and most basic forms, which can then be developed into exercises of various degrees of simplicity or complexity required.





Killer Technique Killer Technique - Uke

Gig Savers: Killer Technique For Serious Players by C. Christiansen is full of many warm-up and technical exercises, laid out for aspiring pick style guitarists. Beginning at the most basic level, and advancing as the player’s skills grow, the exercises in this book gives guitarists the vital information they need to construct technical exercises over their lifetime of playing. There is also a Killer Technique for Ukulele book available as well.



Pumping Nylon

Also available separately, this Pumping Nylon book and DVD combo by Scott Tennant is one of the most comprehensive technique handbooks for the classical guitarist. It contains not only exercises developed  by Scott Tenant, but also Tarrega arpeggio studies, original compositions from Andrew York and Brian Head, as well as compiled selections from Giuliani’s 120 Right Hand Studies, and musical examples from Bach, Rodrigo, Turinia, and others.




Complete Warmup - Gohar

Our Strings By Mail Sponsored Artist, Gohar Vardanyan, has compiled this Complete Warm-Up for Classical Guitar book which contains short and concise exercises to use as a warm ups before practicing, before a performance, and for overall technical advancement. The book is broken down into four different sections that contain descriptions of the exercises and general instruction on how to play them:  Arpeggios, Scales, Tremolo, and Slurs.




Practice Right

There are also many products available that can help stringed instrument players to develop and maintain proper form and technique for years of playing and enjoyment.

The Practice Right Wrist Alignment and Position Correction Aid has been endorsed by Ana Vidovic and Alice Artz and helps players to develop a proper right hand technique and improve playing by promoting proper alignment of the wrist to the fingers. It stabilizes the wrist joint for use during practice and training to aid in developing a position that will lead to the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries in the hand, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.


Foot Rests

Foot Rests are very useful tools that adjust to various heights and angles, allowing the classical guitar player’s leg to position itself in the desired location where the classical guitar’s body rests comfortably and more ergonomically on the player’s leg.





Guitar Supports

Guitar Supports help guitar players by holding the guitar in an ergonomic playing position, without use of a foot stool, which for some players causes back or hip discomfort. The player can focus on their playing with the guitar in position and with both feet squarely on the floor. They are typically cushions or a variety of adjustable rests that support the guitar on the guitar players’ leg.

Here is a great video about the benefits of guitar supports from our Strings By Mail Sponsored Artist Alex De Grassi.



Hand and Finger Exercisers are products that can help exercise, strengthen, and condition players’ hands, fingers, wrists, forearms, and elbows for increased stamina and prolonged playing. Players should use the same caution they apply to practice and playing to avoid any overuse of an exerciser.

Hand Master Plus Varigrip Dynaflex







In closing, approaching the playing of your instrument with the proper technique and warming up correctly will help you develop into a better player and allow you to keep playing for many years to come.

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