Arm Position and Relaxation


I have an issue with my arm resting point on the guitar sometimes. It usually happens after I have been playing a while, but I will end up not being able to relax my arm which makes playing impossible. I can’t pick or string track at all because my arm keeps wanting to lift off the body of the guitar and hold itself up and I just cannot get comfortable anymore. I usually have to stop playing for the rest of the day. Sometimes it takes me a while to find the comfort position in the first place. I am not sure why because I know what it is supposed to look like and feel like I just can’t do it sometimes. When all of you are playing where is your arm resting? And do you ever have this issue?

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First off, if you are experiencing muscular/skeletal/nerve issues, your doctor/osteopath/physio should be your 1st port of call. That being said, I felt compelled to reply as I am going through somewhat similar thing, I’ll try and keep it brief-ish:

Over the past 2-3 weeks I have had episodes of numbness and even some palsy in my fretting hand. My first fear was carpel tunnel due to the numbness, however I have arrived at somewhat of a self-diagnosis (against my initial advice above) that I think it is a pinched nerve in my shoulder and I’m booked into a physiotherapist to work on it. I arrived at this point by
-Resting it from guitar playing
-Working out whether it is a result of guitar playing (mine wasn’t, when my arm was fine I could play with no ill effect).
-Using body awareness to notice when the issue occurrs (my symptoms came on when/after driving, sitting at desk, texting on phone, standing for long periods and seem to be accompanied by tension in my shoulder and upper back
-notice any possible contributing factors (I have recently hurt my lower back picking up my 1 year old, terrible sleep because of baby not sleeping, work pressures, poor fitness and mediocre diet)

All in all, when I pieced it all together, my back/shoulder/neck seem so tight and often in spasm, that a nerve is getting pinched and effecting my arm hand an neck. Things have got better through being aware of it and I now notice that when the symptoms are present, my shoulders are almost touching my ears, because I’m holding them up in a tensed position!!!

All being said, I could be completely wrong! I’ll let you know how I get on after my physio.

So I advise definitely rest it, get some medical advice.

What do you man by “a while”, maybe you need to take more regular breaks and stretch out a bit more.

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I do just need to take more breaks. I get way to into the practicing. To my own detriment. I don’t have any physical pain or anything like that. I think my arm just gets tired. By a while I mean around an hour of playing, but I’m pretty much going full speed the whole time. Definitely need some breaks in there. It’s just odd that sometimes the guitars never feel comfortable. I think my arm lifting off even when it’s not tired is just a bad habit I need to break,



Yeah, that sounds like fatigue. Thats good that its not painful or anything. Get yourself a kitchen timer or use your phone to take enforced breaks at regular intervals. Also, vary the practice so that you are not doing the same thing over and over, should help combat the strain.



Turns out I was right! Went to physio yesterday and although I’ll need a few more sessions, it was fantastic. As part of the deep tissue work, the therapist jammed her thumb into the back of my shoulder and held it there for a good 30 seconds or so, releasing the pinched nerve - it felt like life was flooding back down into my arm! What a relief!! I still have some tension in my back, neck stiffness and soreness, bit I got the best night of sleep I have had for a long time! Got stretches to do daily over the next 2 weeks before my next session!

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