Essential Hand Stretches For Guitarists
In this video lesson I am going to show you show basic stretching exercises that I feel are essential for ALL guitar players.
Playing guitar is one of the most strenuous exercises one could do with their fingers, hands and forearms. However, it's amazing how so many guitarist's skip the stretching and warm-up phase of their practice schedule.
You would never run a few miles or play a game of basketball before stretching right? So I hope you see how important this stretching routine is before you virtually run a marathon with your fingers.
I learned these stretches from Aaron Shearer. For those of you who don't know who he is, he is perhaps the most well know classical guitar teacher in the world. His hands were virtually crippled very early into his concert career and that set him on a path to help guitarist's from getting the same repetitive stress injuries he did.
Good playing form is obviously essential to prevent injury as well, but before all of that it is essential to get your hands ready to play.
Take these exercises slowly and be sure not to try to stretch to far in the beginning. You will notice very quickly however, how much more loose and flexible and relaxed your hands feel after the stretches.
Remember, everybody's hands are different, so take this video and adapt the exercises to work for your hands. Basically, just don't push it to far.
OK, have fun!! Cheers!!
If these free lessons help you, please donate to keep new ones coming daily. Thanks!! 🙂
Very nice video. Warming up exercises are really important and shouldn’t be ignored.
Just what i was lookin for “))
This really helps. Especially since I have increased my practicing from about 30min/day to over 2 hours this month. I have noticed that my fingers and hands getting very stiff and fatigued with the extra practice. This is going to help tremendously!
It kinda feels good though when you feel that healthy muscle fatigue in your hands doesn’t it? It tells me I have done my work for the day. 🙂 Keep it up!!
This should help. My fingers were Beginning to cramp during gigs. Never did hand Stretches.
The only stretches I’ve done – or thought of doing – were on the fretboard.
This is fantastic!
I’ll be making a donation soon.
Thanks Curt, its great when you can keep your hands in shape even when a guitar isn’t available to you. I use them all the time, even when I am not warming up my hands to play. I am glad you could use them as well. And thank you very much for your donation support!! Cheers!! Carl 😀
thank u.i really needed this.ive only been playing for 6 months and im ok but theress till a lot i need to learn,and website is helping me.thank u alot.
Great, keep it going and let me know if you need any additional help! 😀
This is wonderful! I can tell it’s going to help a lot! Thanks so much!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to watch the video and do the stretches. I hope it will help keep your hands moving well for a long time into the future!! 😀 Carl..
Found this website through youtube. Good stuff keep it going
Hey thanks a bunch, I hope you continue to come back and check out all the new lesson updates!! Glad to have you here. 😀
Thanks Carl for the stretches. Just found your site today and my hands feel GOOD. I’ve been playing for many years and never gave too much thought to thisâ€¦ this is really yoga for the hands, thanks again! T.T.
i loved the video it has really helped with me strectchin my fingers farther and being able to play alot easier, thx!!
I never knew about stretchig hands, it is grate!
dude!! thankyou so much. to say im a novice player would have people laughing at me. But this should help me out alot. thanks \m/
Thank you ,never see this before!
Just bought myself a guitar again after over 10 years of not playing, looked on youtube to get the strings on the Floyd Rose, found your Legato exercise there by accident and landed on your page.
Great lessons here! Will turn back to your lessons to get back in shape 🙂
Yeah,,,after this…i’ll to stretching my fingers before playing the guitar,because i’m never do this before…
Love your site and approach to education. You’ve done it right.
This video link is down. Been down a dew days at least. Can u check on it?
Hey Ben, thanks for watching my lessons. I checked on the video and it is working fine over here.
Usually if you are trying to see a video that is embedded from Youtube and you are getting an error it is easily fixed by just deleting your cache in your web browser. It’s some little hiccup with Youtube from time to time and that is how I fix it. 🙂
great video. i never thought to ever strech my hands before playing. but it is very helpful. thanx
One thing I’m missing though:
some stretching and loosening of the shoulders, especially the left shoulder!
Many people keep their shoulders too tight, resulting in pain etc..
John Petrucci has a video with nice warm-up stuff, he includes stretching of the shoulder muscles.
Hoping to improve an already great (and very important) video, Joey
oh yes, and I think this video should not be in the “beginners” section.
In fact, I think a “warming up and practice” section or so would not be a bad idea.
ah. I just found out you put this one in all the sections. Spoken too soon! My humble apologies.
hey man i just started playing guitar like 2 months ago and well i havent really improved at all so hopefully ur videos will help, i just got 1 question: When i go to the beginner section where should i start? like the beginning of chords or what?
Hey Eric, I recommend starting with the open position chords. After you can play a few of them, try working on the changing chords lessons. From there go to the right hand rhythm videos and try to start playing the chords you have learned using those rhythms.
That should give you a good start and the ability to play quite a few popular songs as well.
i think its one of the imp factor as much as playing the guitar. its a good thing that one should always perform these stretching…….
Thanks for the lessons. Massaging your hands feels great too!
Great Lesson. I’ve been playing for at least 3 years now. I’ve have not really got into stretches as much as I should have. After performing these my hands were faster and did not cramp when I played any arpeggios,scales and what not. This really helps when playing 5 hours a day like me.
wow thats awesome it really works
hey carl,nice video. It help me alot coz i really have stiff fingers and it gets me so frustrated. Juz want ya to know ur videos are great. Im starting to learn hey soul sister..juz got one problem tho, i had a hard time changing chords coz it really requires sliding of fingers on different frets. I bought my guitar december 2009. But im not constantly playin it, coz i really got busy. I only have time to play when i have my free time. Im still a beginner and i had a hard time changing chords and keeping the rhythm.. Fingers are so stiff.any advice?
I have small hands, so this is going yo help me out a lot, this is fantastic.
Hi there, I am not able to see any video. which is the format of the video?
Hey Nelson, sorry you are having trouble. The video is just a Youtube embed so if you can watch videos on Youtube you should be able to see this just fine. Perhaps Youtube was having an issue when you tried to view the video before. 😀
Thanks for this video. I have a few “stubborn” fingers that do not want to cooperate with the cords I want to play. These exercises should help.
I’m an uneducated guitar player but I do play in our church every saturday and sunday. I never really had a chance to enroll to a guitar school I don’t know how to read notes and I have a hard time reading tabs. All I know is to play simple chords (I don’t even know what some of these chords are called) and a lot of power chords, when it comes to the solo part of a song I only rely on my hearing and pick the notes one by one. I wan’t to be an educated guitarist and I hope to start in this site. God Bless you brother.
Hey,excellent stretches, thanks fro that info and demo. Started using them right away and can feel the difference already!
This is very essential for guitar players. Thank you so much!
May I request for you to do a study on Eddie Van Halen’s shreds. I’d really appreciate it, sir.
its very imp exercise…
i like it 😀
Thank you so much!!
Thanks for sharing this lesson, I’ve been playing for 25+ years,
and the last decay I’ve been playing with 0.11-52 on all my guitars,
and I started last summer and doing a lot of picking / fretting hand sync and technique. But I got so sore in my left hand so I could not keep at it, I didn’t do any of those excersies for weeks, but as soon as I got into it, after a few minutes the pain was back. I was forced to go down to 0.9-42 to not feel the pain, I wish I had used this warmup style from the beginning, then I might be able to keep my o.11-.50
strings, they sound so much better than the thin ones 🙂
Oh well I just wanted to share, and maybe warn other players to take this serious, not so much to make big stretches but to prevent injures
thanks for all you nice vidoes
This is really Good ! for those of you who watched this video and thought this wont help … just give it ONE shot and i guarantee you will do it everyday before playing !
wile whatching the video I did it and I feel already the difference..nice !
Excellent tutorial! I’ve been practicing scales but didn’t know what to do about these cramps! This really does the trick.
Also, thank you for pointing out that you don’t need huge fingers to play well. Just because Buckethead and Steve Vai have huge hands doesn’t mean that they don’t need to practice.
thank you very much…this site is important for me.
it is ok if you crack the fingers?
I think it is, and a hand specialist I spoke with feels the same way. Some people just need to crack their fingers to help loosen them up a bit (myself included). They told me that some people fingers just crack and it is completely natural and to not worry about it. 😀
Wow, I did this to both of my hands, and they feel great! I can now stretch my fingers an extra fret and a half now!! Thanks Carl
Hi! this is my first time every hearing and seeing finger streching like this, none of my instructers ever taught me this in three years. Man im so far behind. Thanks guitarlesson365.
Hey man, i’m in a metal band, The Dissension. I am totally plagued by stiffness from all the fast thrashy picking. After this video, my arms and hands feel great! Totally adding this to my warm up regiment!
well, just thank you! ive been playing for eleven years this was the first time i ever stretched lol. i don’t know why?? i played metal too, fast metal..sometimes 240bpm.
Yeah it was a game changer for me the first time I stretched as well. Hope it helps keep your hands healthy for life!
Very good! This exercises are essentials.
This is awesome. Very simple but it is effective. Thank you very much, Carl!!
great video for a beginner like me! thanks Carl!
I really found this website very helpful…keep it going Carl…i really appreciate all your effort, money and time for putting all these guitar lessons and helpful tips for guitarists…
Thanks a bunch Jurey. I will definitely keep it going. 😀
Buddy its great video !Helped a lot..Can i ask u something??if i practice more hours a day will that improve me playing guitar??
Well I would certainly hope so. 😛
Thanks! Great tips 🙂
Carl, these stretching exercises work better for me than any others I’ve tried. I can really feel what they’re doing.
Awesome, yeah I couldn’t play without em’ either. 🙂
It is the exactly the same lesson that i am looking for! excellent!
Carl has nailed it!!!! So many teachers and so many accessories for finger exercise… As seen exercise is in the hands as well as the tones and technique…. Very cool website he has here… Last stop for me!!!
Thank you. great to have these stretches. I find i tend to forget one or two of the sequence when I’m not running through it with you on the computer tho! Do you them in a written / graphic form at all? Thanks again. Soul
Sorry I don’t. Perhaps you can make a quick sheet of notes to remind you of the stretches next time you watch the video?
wow, it’s really helpful 🙂
I can tell I am going to like these lessons. Down to earth. and
nowhere have I seen anyone tell us to do finger stretches. Very
good. Definitely will subscribe. many thanks
Thank you very much, I like guitarlessons365.com
I’m starting to play again after not playing for 50yrs.
really need these exercises.
that was excellent which iu never knew from so many years of playing
my hands are happy again.
hi my name is stephen i tryed this and it realy works
nice 1 loved it
i m playing since 5 yrs nvr felt so flexible n relaxed before
Thanks so much, Just learning the guitar but my fingers are too stiff to move around the fretboard effectively, these stretches will help a lot.
Your work is very professional and serious, and the better, is simple too.
thank you very much.
How is this free?
Very useful streching exercises before playing guitar, and very important for beginner guitar players. Thank you
Makes it a hell of a lot easier to play guitar after a long day at school thats for sure ^^
Thanks for the awesome video. I just started guitar at age of 35. My hands were killing me until i found this video. These exercises are really making a difference. Thanks a ton.
Thank you so much, it feels right from the very first time. Gonna try it and see the results.
This is great, thank you!
It’s very useful.
Thank you. this is very good lesson!
Thanks for your lesson on fingers streteches !
Thank you, thank you, thank you ^-^
I shall never-more have to stop practicing guitar just because of aching hands 😀
I’m a beginner (8 Months) but working hard at learning. My first exposure to you was “Edleweiss” finger picking video. Very impressive, although I would love to have heard you play the complete song. My second exposure was on the finger exercises video. Again, I’m impressed. I want to contribute and I want to get tabs for “Edleweiss.” Not sure how to go about it. Hope to hear from you. Buddy
Hey Buddy, thanks a bunch for checking out my lessons.
If you go to this page https://guitarlessons365.com/edelweiss-guitar-lesson-videos-solo-guitar-arrangement/ you can see all the video lessons I have for “Edelweiss” including a full performance video so you can see the whole arrangement performed in it’s entirety. The TAB PDF for my arrangement of “Edelweiss” can also be found on this page for you to download. 🙂
Hope this helps! Carl..
Better late than never. Looks like all the action was 4 years ago.
Still, these are great, and timeless.
Hey Pete, glad you like them! Yeah this lesson was posted quite a while ago but will always be supported if you have any questions about it at all. 🙂
Thanks for watching! Carl..
Thanks so much! My little wimpy hands are getting ready to take on my guitar and one day…not so wimpy anymore. 😉
Thanks, it was pretty useful. Was searching for something for a few weeks 🙂 cheers
Glad I could help Mani! Carl..
Thnx for the exercise its really great…:)
I’m a blues/rock guitarist and been playing many years and just started getting very bad cramps while soloing.
This video was just what I needed and appreciate your time putting it together.
Hey Carl I know your very busy but I was wondering if you could please do a free youtube lesson on the parts of the guitar. That would really help me. Thanks
This is really important i love these hand exercises and thank you for taking your time and effort into this huge varieties of lessons on this website love you man
Thanks Man! it is great!!!
Great stretching exercises!, and well presented!
I have a Rehab background and these are well worth doing before you play. Donation sent yesterday – thanks for all U do and keep up the clear, concise, knowledgable vids- GR8 work !!
Thank you, thank you, thank you. These are what I’ve been looking for.
thank you for this training…that was amazing…….
Wow! Carl Im pleased to see so many replies on this particularly instruction! I wanted to add my own two cents worth. As I told you elsewhere on your site, I recently picked up the guitar after several years off. Well when I did start several months ago I started with a vengeance (lol) with one of the many immediate results being some fair to moderate tendinitis in my left (fret) hand, primarily my pinky and index fingers. This resulting from mostly playing certain scale shapes repeatedly.
I honestly didnt even notice it first, and by the time I did, it was already pretty bad. Making an application from sports medicine, Im sure a doctor would simply advise to take several days off. Of course that wasnt an option for me! lol. So like any serious athlete I just continued to play through and endure the pain. But something as simple as stretching my fingers and joints never occurred to me. Then I saw your lessons here, and the “No duh!” light bulb went off in my head.
I immediately started stretching, following your lesson, several times a day and felt immediate relief. Then also taking a cue from sports medicine I also started applying ice to my fingers to assist with the healing/recovery. Cha-ching! The two applications combined have been golden! I now ice and stretch my hands several times a day, every day. And my pain has diminished to negligible.
Thx much Carl! (again!)
That is great to hear Sean. I personally feel like I can hardly play at all if I don’t stretch out first. I am so used to the feeling of my hands being well stretched before playing, anything else just feels completely foreign.
The ice is great for recovery (after practice), just make sure you don’t do it before stretching or practicing. What is also good, especially before you stretch out preparing to practice is to soak your hands in hot water for about 30 secs. It really gets the blood flowing and the muscles warmed up and ready to be stretched. 🙂
Hey Last time I saw you was a long time back…but everything about you has not changed apart from your looks. back then you never used a hat….yes I am an old fan of yours…..and love all your work….do you remember a JOSH who requested you for some steve vai lessons….allmost 5 yrs back……ya I am back to the scene…and Now I am thinking about bringing Joe sach….steve vai…and john petrucci under one roof….but I must tell you u never skipped my mind….I again created a login on your website….just check your old logs you might find a JOSH there….5 yrs back requesting you for steve vai and metallica tracks…
thanks for being one hell lot of a CARL BROWN….man….I am back….
Great to hear from you again Josh! Glad you are back.
Did I actually wear a hat in a video?? Haha
look at the very first conversation on this chat response….I think this chat started with my conversations at the beginning…..
allmost 5 yrs back…ya 2010 it is….
Thanks for the tip on the hands , first time in 49 years I did that I felt it all through my hands and arms thanks again
awesome video.i have tried & its working…thanks alot
There are a lot of comments here. I apologize if I’ve missed this topic having already been discussed, but I’m concerned that my hands are too small or too small to play a lot of things;i.e., Every Breath You Take, for example. My span – from the tip of my pinky to the tip of my thumb – is 8-3/4″. The length of my pinky (along the inside between my 3rd and pinky fingers) is only 2-1/8″ long. You say your fingers are average, but they look long and lanky to me. Besides stretching and making the most of what I have, is there any other advice or insights you can give, or should I just resign myself to what I have and make do?
Hey Joel, I am almost 100% certain that your fingers are plenty long to play just about anything on the guitar. With proper stretching and positioning (especially the thumb position on the back of the neck) you will be able to play just about anything you want with practice.
Just google 7 year old plays Bach on guitar or something like that on YouTube. You will see many young kids with extremely small hands playing the guitar great. It is all about training. 🙂
“It is all about training.” I guess that’s my problem; I have none. Of course, that’s one of the reasons I’m checking out your site. Thank you for the encouragement and for taking the time to respond.
Beautiful stretching exercises as a beginner I didn’t know how important it is to stretch the fingers.May god bless you.
Thanks, really like the stretches,. they really help while playing the guitar
Hey Carl, thanks for this stretching lesson! I just wanted to ask you if it’s normal to sometimes get blisters on the fingers after playing? And how to prevent them?
Yes very common, you should practice a little less when learning new techniques that gives your fingertips something new to do. After a while they will stand up to just about anything.
Can be quite painful in the meantime though. Just stop and let the calluses develop. 🙂
Thank you. Just what i need. and it feels good
i feel loose as a goose now, but they feel kinda tired too, is this normal
It is good they feel loose. Stretching can be strenuous though. So don’t do overdo it, especially before you practice.
A post practice stretch routine can be a bit longer since you are done playing and it will keep those tired muscles loose while continuing strengthen them and make them more flexible as well. 🙂
Great Video. Just what I liked to see and do.
Great stretches Some I use but others are new Thanks
Thanks Sir Carl 🙂 that’s what i needed to do.
Obvious really, but never been taught to do this before…. even when doing piano lessons!
Hi Carl, thumps up for the great finger stretching and warm-up exercises. As a beginner, I’ve always wanted to rush into knowing the cool but complicated stuffs that can only be achieved with synchronized coordination of the fingers and both hands, dexterity and speed. But now I know the very basics necessary to acquire these abilities. My sincere gratitude. Hope to explore more and build on from here.
So very helpful. Simple, effective and necessary. Thank you.
Hey Carl! Just joined a couple of days ago and I’m excited to get into all of the great lessons on your site! I’ve been playing guitar on and off for about 35 years and I never knew to go these hand massages and stretches. I read an earlier comment above and saw you mention that briefly soaking your hands in warm/hot water was good to do prior to stretching, then playing and then after done playing do a cool down (possibly with ice) and stretching again. This is such great advice! Thank you so much for sharing!
I’m working my way through your Premium and Free beginner classes to review things to make sure I’m not missing a trick? Cheers!
Sounds awesome Dory! Please let me know if you ever have any questions at all!
Thank you, Carl! Glad to be part of your your guitar community. And I definitely will be asking questions, thanks for being a resource for us!
As a matter of fact, I do have a question. It is regarding muting the 6th string on a chord with an “X” noted on the chord diagram, like the A minor chord. I read your reply to use your thumb to gently touch the 6th string. And noticed you doing that when switching back and forth between the A minor and E minor chords in your Beginner lesson about various examples strumming patterns with a 4/4 measure.
Are there other chords to be aware of to make sure the thumb slightly mutes that 6th string? And you make that thumb position a part of making that chord everytime? Or is it possible to make sure your strumming avoids hitting the 6th string?
I never really took notice to doing anything different on chords that had the “X” on a string before. Wow, where have I been!
Thank you for any input you can provide.
Hey Dory, for most chords that incorporate an open string, your hand position will usually have your thumb resting along the top each of the fretboard. That is the position where you can easily mute that string.
However, when playing barre chords in which you need to mute the 6th string, the muting works differently. It is done with the tip of the index finger. For instance, if you have a barre chord that requires a barre across 5 strings, you will barre across those strings with your index finger, but also allow the tip of that index finger to touch the bottom of the 6th string. That will keep it quiet.
If you take a look at the barre chords chapter of the beginner category of the academy, it will cover that muting.
Half the battle of playing the guitar is muting the strings that you aren’t playing. With good fundamentals, that muting will become second nature and you never really need to think about it. Trying to precisely strum just the right amount of stings isn’t really realistic because even if you succeed, just the vibration of the instrument will cause those unmuted strings to create noise. 🙂
Thanks so much for the very thorough explanation to my question, Carl!! I will check out the barre chord chapter as you suggest. Thanks for the lead, no pun intended!!
Thank goodness for muscle memory, which will hopefully kick in when creating this new muting habit!! 😄
I’ve been visiting and revisiting your channel and videos for quite a while now and have been playing since I’ve been 13. I’m 22 now so almost 9 or 10 years. I can’t seem to get the hang of it and I still suck lol. I never thought about coming here but I’m glad I did. these lessons are helping a lot!
Also, do you mind doing a video on Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling?
I recently found that song (and found it hilarious) and I really want to learn it but can’t seem to find any good or accurate lessons or tabs anywhere and most tabs I’ve found, I have to buy the PDF documents and they still don’t seem right.
I’ve been playing (i call it playing, my wife calls it noise making) for 2 years now. My diabetic hands feel great for the first time. never really stretched before. what a difference. thanks.
Yes it can make quite the difference. You will find that now playing without your hands and forearms stretched will feel awful. Haha..
Wow Awesome! Just got back into playing guitar after a 30 year absence (been playing the highland bagpipes in that time). This is one great lesson. In the beginning everyone wants to play songs. This is a much needed lesson for everyone. Thank you. Just started and wanted to see the structure of your courses were like and if I would actually make the time to use them. Lesson #1 is in the win pile. I’ve see your stuff on Youtube and am learning Europa part 1 from you. But need a ground up rebuild and I am impressed with the people that you have studied from. Ted Green in particular. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of online guitar lessons? More specifically how to get the most our of GL365 Academy. I seems to me I could waste a lot of time on youtube and not really progress out of the couple of songs that I would learn there. Any advice is much appreciated Carl.
Hey Terry, great to hear from you!
To get the most out of the lessons in the academy, I create custom practice routines for each academy member that depends on their interests, their ability level, some short and long term goals and the amount of time they have to practice. So once you are in the academy, we can work together to come up with a good routine for you using the lessons on the site. 🙂
Hi Carl, Thank you for the fast reply. Pleasant and unexpected. It sounds like you have a well thought out system. I will let you know when I join and I look forward to working with you. 👍
My hands are hurting good! These are great exercises. I wish I had learned them 30 years ago! I spent much time on the computer which did a lot of damage – most in terms of inflammation and sometimes pain. I know these exercises will help. I had pain in left hand from changing chord positions and I think this is more due to a medication I’m taking which delights in lighting up war wounds from the past.
I am a new member with your Thanksgiving special and I love the approach you take. Thanks and have a happy New Year!
Hi Carl, this really works.. my hands were stiff before I did the stretch, it works thank you.
looking forward to joining this awesome crew on a regular basis. Been waiting to learn the guitar most of my life, did not do it because music notes did not make since to me at all. My music teacher tried my brothers tried to teach me as well, they had their own group back then and played in night clubs my sisters use to sing I did not because I had stage fright and couldn’t read the music, just this last week I ran across online learn to read music the crazy thing about it after 1 hour it all made since, I was done, where was this action 40 years ago. So now that I can read the music I want to learn how to play the guitar I am so happy right now.
Hopes this works out for me. Thank you for helping people that wants to learn such an awesome instrument the guitar. You are truly blessed.
I am a Disabled Veteran and picking my guitar back up for therapy. Love the way you teach and truly appreciate what you are doing. My question or request for you is if it might be possible to teach the song “Piss On The Wall” by the J. Geils Band ? That is one I cannot figure out and have found no lessons on YouTube for at all. Let me know and keep up the great work. Hope you are doing great. God Bless.