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3 Tips to Strengthen Your Hands

by Phil Barrow January 23, 2017
Closeup of a bassist playing his bass guitar.

There’s nothing quite as painful (both literally and figuratively) as not being able to jam out on an instrument until your heart is content. When your hand gives out way before you need it to, it may be time to offer some serious TLC for your hands. When it comes to music – dexterity, endurance and strength are the essential components that allow you to keep doing what you love to do.

Whether it’s guitar, bass, violin, or piano, fatigue or pain in your hands is simply not an option when it comes to creating that sweet, fluid motion and sound. Unfortunately, finger pain can be common for beginner and expert musicians alike when you overtrain or do not use proper form. Take the necessary steps to ensure that your fingers have the stamina to keep up with your musical life by incorporating these three tips to strengthen your hands.

Effective Stretching Before Guitar Practice

Think about how important it is to stretch before embarking on a long run, or hitting the gym. Well the same goes for your hands before you grab that instrument and play that hour-long set. It’s imperative to take the time before you take on that intensive solo. Always warm up those muscles in your hands, fingers, and forearms so they can get limber and ready for that strenuous performance.

A great and simple ways to do this is by placing your palms together in a prayer-like position and pointing them inward towards your chest. This is a great stretch that targets your hands, fingers, wrists, and forearms.

Fret Warm Ups During Guitar Lessons

Just like giving your body a warm-up jog, give your hands a good warm up session that will benefit and enhance the strength and stamina of them.  For example, for guitarists, here’s a great exercise that will help warm up your hands.

Begin by placing your index finger on the low E string, first fret and then playing the note. Continue this for each finger along each low E string of the next fret and strike the note, but keep your previous fingers in place (do not remove them from the strings). As you make your way along each finger, you should begin to feel the stretch, especially within your pinky. Repeat this exercise until you reach the high E string.

This is not only a great way to strength your fingers, but it can also help you improve guitar scales and fingering techniques as well.

Rice Digging

This one may sound unusual, but it’s a great method that’s been used in martial arts for building strength and callouses on your hands and fingers. If you have some rice lying around, pour it into a large bucket. Make sure it’s at least halfway full. Keep your fingers together and straight, and begin digging your hands into the rice. As you lift your hands out, try to grab a handful of rice, squeezing hard. Release and repeat. This should improve your strength and reach.

When you count on your hands to keep up with you and your instrument, it’s important to give them the proper care and exercise to keep them limber and strong. Before you jump on that guitar or violin for your next set, start showing your hands the love they deserve with these three strengthening tips.

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Phil Barrow

Phil discovered his passion for music in his early teens when he began learning to play the guitar. He attended the VCC School of Music where he studied jazz and contemporary guitar performance. Phil joined Resound as a guitar teacher in 2013 and has been the school’s Director since 2014.