How to Eliminate Tension in Your Guitar Playing

For a guitarist tension, is enemy number one.  It can, not only slow you down, but long term, it can cause injuries like tendonitis or carpal tunnel.  The question is how can we eliminate tension in our guitar  playing?

Sometimes, eliminating tension can be harder than we at first realize, but the first step is to be aware of it.  As you begin playing, make sure that you are playing loose and not tensing any muscles.  This includes not only your hands and arms, but also in your shoulders and face.

Examine your playing to see if there is anything in your technique that is causing your tension.  Sometimes resting our arm or wrist on the guitar, the way we grip our pick, or the way we anchor our picking hand can cause tension to develop.

Many times as guitarists, we start out our practice sessions playing loose, but as we progress,  tension starts to creep in to our technique.  If you start to tense up, stop and try to correct your mistake.  You can stretch your arms, take a deep breath, roll your head around, or anything else that will help you get loose.

Also if a certain technique, song, or exercise makes us tense up, practice it slowly without tension and slowly build up speed.  Making sure that, as we increase our speed, we are  not, also  increasing our tension.

Another trick that I have found works for me, is to mentally try to slow a song or exercise down in my mind.  It somehow makes the exercise seem much easier than it was before, but  I am still playing the same speed.  If you can do this, you can often eliminate much of your tension, because a lot of times if a song or exercise seems hard or you are playing faster than you are comfortable playing, it causes tension.