Why Does My Shoulder Hurt When Playing Guitar

Ever wonder why your shoulder starts to hurt when you’re jamming on your guitar? It’s a bummer, but don’t worry, it shouldn’t happen.

Shoulder pain when playing guitar can be caused by incorrect holding techniques, improper strap adjustment, the weight of the guitar, or over-practicing without adequate breaks.

We’re going to look into why this happens and how you can play without the pain. By the end, you’ll know how to keep rocking without any shoulder pain getting in your way!

Understanding Shoulder Pain in Guitarists

Shoulder pain is surprisingly common among guitar players, often stemming from repetitive strain and improper technique. However, it’s crucial to understand that experiencing shoulder pain is not a normal or necessary part of playing the guitar.

Recognizing and addressing the root causes early can prevent pain from becoming a chronic issue, ensuring a more enjoyable and sustainable practice and performance routine.

Identifying the Causes of Shoulder Pain

Poor posture while sitting or standing with the guitar can lead to significant shoulder discomfort. Incorrect hand and body positions strain the shoulder, neck, and back muscles, contributing to pain.

Ensuring the correct posture and hand positioning is vital for minimizing stress on the shoulder.

The Role of Guitar Straps

An improperly adjusted guitar strap can cause the instrument to sit too low or high, leading to awkward arm positions and shoulder strain.

Ensuring your strap is adjusted so that the guitar is held in a comfortable position, aligning with your body’s natural posture, is key.

The Weight of Your Guitar

Playing a heavy guitar can put unnecessary stress on your shoulder, especially during long practice sessions or performances. Opting for a lighter instrument can significantly reduce this strain.


Excessive practice without adequate breaks can overwork the shoulder muscles and joints, leading to pain and discomfort.

It’s crucial to take regular breaks and listen to your body’s signals to avoid overuse injuries.

Preventive Measures and Solutions for Shoulder Pain

Maintaining proper posture is essential for preventing shoulder pain. Ensure your guitar is positioned close to your body, and adjust your chair or strap so that the guitar is at a height where your arm can comfortably reach around without raising your shoulder.

Adjusting your wrist angle and ensuring your body is aligned with the guitar can alleviate stress on your shoulder. Be mindful of keeping a relaxed posture, avoiding hunching over the instrument.

Choosing and Adjusting Your Guitar Strap Correctly

Select a strap that’s wide and padded to distribute the guitar’s weight more evenly across your shoulder.

Adjust the strap so the guitar sits at a comfortable height, allowing your arm to move freely without lifting your shoulder.

Managing Guitar Weight and Practice Duration

Consider using a guitar that weighs less. Set healthy practice limits, ideally incorporating short, frequent breaks to prevent muscle fatigue and strain.

Immediate Actions to Alleviate Shoulder Pain

When shoulder pain strikes, the first step should be to rest the affected area, giving it time to heal from any strain or injury.

Applying ice can significantly help reduce inflammation and numb the pain. It’s recommended to ice the shoulder for about 20 minutes several times a day during the initial days following the onset of pain.

Exercises and Stretches

Incorporating exercises and stretches into your daily routine can aid in alleviating shoulder pain by strengthening the muscles around the shoulder and improving flexibility.

Gentle stretching exercises that extend the range of motion, along with strengthening exercises targeting the shoulder’s supporting muscles, can help reduce tension and pain.

Long-Term Strategies for Shoulder Health

Maintaining a regular exercise routine that includes activities aimed at strengthening the shoulder, back, and core muscles can prevent future pain.

For those with chronic shoulder issues, consulting a physical therapist may provide targeted exercises and treatments to address underlying problems effectively.

Ergonomic Considerations

Adopting ergonomic practices and using accessories designed to reduce strain during guitar playing can significantly impact shoulder health.

This includes using ergonomic straps, maintaining proper posture, and possibly adjusting the setup of your playing area to encourage a more shoulder-friendly environment.


Recognizing the importance of early intervention and adopting correct playing habits is crucial in preventing and managing shoulder pain.

If pain persists despite these measures, seeking professional help from a medical or physiotherapy professional is advised to address potential underlying issues.

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