Arthritis and Guitar - What Helps? | Lessonface

Arthritis and Guitar - What Helps?

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Leah Kruszewski
Arthritis and Guitar - What Helps?

It's never too late to start playing guitar!  I have lots of students who start from zero in their sixties and beyond. Often guitar is something they have always wanted to take up, and just never had time for before.  The extra practice time that retirement or semi-retirement allows often enables these students to advance at an impressive pace.  But starting as an older adult can present unique challenges, especially physical ones like arthritis.   

I haven't dealt with arthritis personally, and am not an authority by any means.  But my general understanding is that staying active and keeping your joints and hands moving helps with arthritis rather than making it worse.   Is this correct?  What advice do you have for playing guitar with arthritic hands?  Are there any exercises, stretches, or general tips you have discovered or developed?  I'd love to hear from some of my students who manage to play guitar well in spite of joint issues and limited mobility/control of the fingers.  Hopefully you can help each other!  

Kurt G

Between daily keyboard use and some hand-heavy sports I deal with some light osteoarthritic symptoms and plenty of regular tendonitis. I've found guitar to be somewhat therapeutic as an exercise. It lets me add in a different set of motions and stretches. Some days are slower and stiffer than others, but I've found not moving and using your hands tends to make it worse (except for those super inflamed days when you just need to lay off).

Besides a steady diet of ibuprofen I've found this set of hand stretches to be really good (even when I'm not playing guitar):

I also tend to do rice digs while watching tv:

Leah Kruszewski

Thanks so much for sharing this info Kurt!  I've seen those hand stretches before and even do some of them myself.  The rice digs look fun, and it's funny how they are also a popular exercise for baseball players.  I know several more of my students deal with arthritis and have their own exercises and stretches and look forward to hearing their thoughts.  Have you tried these exercises?  Do you do anything similar?  What else do you recommend?  

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