Versailles - 78000

Guitar and osteopathy

The guitar, the emblematic six-string instrument, seduces with its versatility and expressive potential. From rock to classical music, it accompanies artists on stages the world over and in the intimacy of their living rooms. However, playing the guitar requires precise technique and proper posture to avoid musculoskeletal strain and injury. This is where osteopathy comes in, helping to correct imbalances and relieve pain, making it an invaluable ally for guitarists wishing to preserve their health while perfecting their art. Let's explore how these two worlds come together to offer musicians a harmonious, pain-free practice.

The guitarist's posture

A guitarist's posture, whether seated or standing, is essential for comfortable, efficient playing. Here's a detailed description of the typical posture of a right-handed guitarist (i.e. the opposite of a left-handed guitarist's hands).

Posture for seated play

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The guitarist should preferably sit on a chair without armrests, so as not to impede arm movement. Both feet should be flat on the floor, sitting upright with shoulders relaxed and back aligned, without leaning forward or backward. The leg on which the guitar rests (usually the right leg for right-handed players) can be raised slightly by using a footrest. The lower part of the body rests against the thigh and the upper part against the torso. The guitar is tilted slightly upwards, with the neck pointing towards the ceiling, facilitating access to the frets. The left hand is positioned behind the neck, with the thumb at the back for support, and the fingers curved close to the frets. The right hand is positioned above the rosette (for an acoustic guitar) or the pickups (for an electric guitar), ready to strum or pluck the strings.

Standing posture

The guitar strap should be adjusted to a comfortable length, ideally at a height similar to that used when sitting. The guitarist stands up straight, with relaxed shoulders, and avoids leaning forwards or backwards. Feet should be shoulder-width apart for stability, with one leg slightly forward for comfort. It's important that the guitar is stable and doesn't slip, with the lower part of the body resting against the torso. As in the seated position, the left hand is placed behind the neck, with the thumb at the back and the fingers curved. The right hand, on the other hand, should be relaxed and positioned over the strings, ready to strum or pluck.

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Adopting good posture not only helps you play more efficiently, but also prevents long-term pain and injury.

Biomechanics of the guitarist's movements

Guitar biomechanics focuses on the study of the movements and forces exerted on the body when playing the guitar. A good understanding of this discipline enables guitarists to play more efficiently, improve their technique and prevent injury.

guitar guitarist osteopathy osteo versailles

Hand and finger movements

The left hand, located on the neck, should be positioned so that the thumb rests on the back, providing good support. The fingers should be curved and placed close to the frets to minimize the effort required to support the strings, helping to reduce fatigue and the risk of tendonitis. The right hand, which plays the strings, should remain relaxed and capable of fluid movements. It is crucial to maintain good alignment and precise coordination to avoid tension, whether using a plectrum or playing with the fingers. Proper right-hand technique helps prevent wrist and forearm pain, contributing to a more comfortable and lasting musical practice.

Force and pressure

The pressure exerted by the fingers on the strings must be just right: strong enough to produce a clear sound, but not excessive enough to avoid pain and cramp. Mastering this pressure is crucial to prevent long-term injury. Strumming and picking movements must be performed in a fluid, controlled manner. Correct technique minimizes muscular effort and fatigue, particularly in the forearm and wrist, contributing to a more comfortable, longer-lasting playing experience.

The guitarist's main pathologies


Tendonitis is a common problem for guitarists, due to the repetitive movements and prolonged postures associated with playing the guitar. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon, the fibrous structure that connects muscle to bone, becomes inflamed or irritated.

In guitarists, tendonitis can affect several areas, including the wrists, forearms and fingers, notably the finger flexors or De Quervain's tendonitis.

Typical symptoms of tendonitis in guitarists include localized pain, tenderness to touch, swelling, and sometimes reduced strength or mobility in the affected area. Guitarists may experience pain while playing or even at rest, depending on the severity of the tendonitis.

It is important for guitarists to consult a healthcare professional as soon as symptoms of tendonitis appear, in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment recommendations. Ignoring symptoms or continuing to play despite pain can worsen the condition and lead to long-term complications. A proactive approach to tendonitis management can help guitarists maintain a healthy and sustainable musical practice.

Low back pain

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Low back pain, or lumbago, is common among guitarists due to the prolonged postures adopted while playing and carrying the guitar. Sitting or standing for long periods can exert excessive pressure on the spine and lumbar muscles, causing pain and strain. In addition, repetitive and asymmetrical arm and shoulder movements can also contribute to low-back pain in guitarists. To prevent such pain, it's essential to adopt correct posture, take regular breaks to stretch the back and shoulder muscles, and strengthen the abdominal and lumbar muscles with specific exercises. In the event of persistent low-back pain, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a precise diagnosis and appropriate treatment recommendations.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common complaint among guitarists. It results from compression of the median nerve at the wrist, due to thickening or inflammation of the flexor muscle retinaculum. The condition is characterized by symptoms such as tingling, numbness, electric shocks and reduced strength in the hand, particularly during movements involving the thumb and index finger.

Maintaining a playing position for long periods aggravates these symptoms in guitarists, negatively impacting their performance and quality of life.

Management of this syndrome requires a multidisciplinary approach, including ergonomic adjustments to playing technique, specific strengthening and stretching exercises, as well as therapeutic interventions such as physiotherapy, massage, and even surgical evaluation in the most severe cases. Regular medical check-ups and consultations with specialists are essential to prevent the onset of this pathology and ensure a long-lasting, pain-free musical practice.

Osteopathy and guitarists

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Guitarists, subjected to prolonged postures and repetitive movements, can develop musculoskeletal pain. Osteopathy, through gentle manipulation techniques and postural advice, helps to correct imbalances and reduce tension. By integrating osteopathy into their routine, guitarists can play more comfortably, prevent injuries and optimize their performance.

In conclusion

In conclusion, osteopathy is an invaluable ally for guitarists, whether amateur or professional. Osteopathic techniques can correct postural imbalances, relieve pain and prevent injuries caused by the physical demands of playing an instrument. By integrating osteopathy into their care routine, guitarists can not only improve their general well-being, but also optimize their performance and prolong their musical career. A holistic, preventive approach ensures harmonious, long-lasting practice, enabling musicians to play with comfort and pleasure.

Athina De Vogel
Osteopath D.O
2 rue Alexis de Tocqueville
78000 Versailles

Athina De Vogel osteopath versailles

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