Our Hands, Our bodies

by Kami Rowan

We often forget that our hands are connected to our minds and the rest of our physical body.  In other words, our hands are affected by what we eat, how tired we are, how in shape we are, and how we treat ourselves. Guitarists, and other instrumentalists, are constantly trying to avoid Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) by tasking our technique. Of course the way the hands work is vital to the well being of our playing.  But also important is how we take care of our bodies.

In guitar culture, we sit with the guitar to practice hours a day in one basic position.  This can wear on our body, as well as our mind over time. Choosing an active lifestyle and giving attention to our physical well being can help a player maintain endurance and lessen the chance of injury.  Making choices like replacing the footstool with another guitar support system, or lowering the footstool in combination with an alternate support, can service our physical health long-term.  Knee, hip, and lower back issues can, and do arise from elevated legs over a lot of years. Also being sure your hands are working properly can ensure longevity of playing without injury.  Check to make sure you follow the four principals of movements outlined by Shearer as:

  • Alignment
  • Mid-range positioning
  • Follow through
  • Uniform direction of joint movement

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Remaining active is crucial to maintaining health in our backs, necks, and hands.  Activity also helps with stress management and aids in relaxation for pressure-oriented events such as performances and competitions. Practices like Tai Chi, Yoga, swimming, walking, running, etc. can be a serious factor in making one a better player and sustaining mental and physical focus over a long period of time while practicing. Living a sedentary lifestyle puts the guitarist at risk for injury, discomfort, and a lack of energy during the practice session. Plus, being active is fun and elevates the quality of one’s life.

Manifesting a healthy lifestyle also informs our musical expression by inviting sensory intake that enhances perception. Endorphins are released when we exercise and our senses are also stimulated. In fact, music and movement are well paired in this manner. Why do we pump music into gyms where we workout?  Synching our heartbeats to music and utilizing music for motivation is common practice for athletes. Using music along side of movement increases physical endurance and offers incentive. Music and movement go hand-in-hand in improving physical wellness. So don’t forget, our hands are part of our bodies, and our bodies are built to move.

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