Can Guitar Playing Cause Tennis Elbow?

Playing the guitar is a passion for many – it’s a relaxing pastime, a creative outlet, and for some, a profession.

While you may think tennis elbow is limited to sporty endeavors, it can emerge from various repetitive activities. Guitar playing being one of them.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only. If you experience pain seek medical advice.

Can Guitar Playing Cause Tennis Elbow: The Striking Revelation

Before we delve into the details of how guitar playing could potentially lead to tennis elbow, let’s first understand what tennis elbow is. Also known as “lateral epicondylitis,” tennis elbow is a painful condition affecting the tendons that connect your forearm muscles to the outside of your elbow.

The Anatomy of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is typically the result of overuse and strain of the muscles and tendons in the forearm. These muscles extend the wrist and fingers. The constant repetition and strain can cause the tendons to degenerate, leading to inflammation, pain, and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. It’s like your elbow’s way of saying, “Hey, cut it out!”

How Guitar Playing Factors In

So, how does strumming a guitar play into this? When you grip the guitar neck or extensively use the pick, the action is similar to the motions that can cause tennis elbow. Long hours of playing, especially without adequate breaks, can add to this strain.

Posture and Positioning

Posture is an essential aspect of playing any instrument, and the guitar is no exception. Bad posture and positioning while playing can increase the likelihood of straining your muscles and tendons, which could potentially result in tennis elbow.

The Strain of Strumming and Fretting

The act of strumming or fretting is not merely a movement of the fingers and wrist. It involves the whole arm, which can put pressure on your elbow, especially with the constant repetitive motion.

Prevention: Your Best Defense

Now that we’ve established that guitar playing can indeed cause tennis elbow, it’s important to explore prevention strategies. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Proper Technique and Posture

Ensuring that you’re using the proper technique and maintaining good posture can significantly reduce the risk of tennis elbow. It might be a good idea to consult with a guitar tutor or a physical therapist to ensure that your posture and playing technique are sound.

Regular Breaks and Stretches

Take regular breaks during your practice sessions and performances. This helps reduce the continuous strain on your tendons. Stretching your fingers, hand, and arm muscles before and after playing the guitar can also be beneficial.

Guitar player

When Guitar Strings Strum Elbow Strings: Treatment Options

If you suspect your guitar playing has given you tennis elbow, don’t fret – there are several treatment options available.

RICE Method

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is often recommended in the early stages of tennis elbow. Resting your arm gives the inflamed tendon time to heal, while ice can help reduce inflammation and pain.


Physiotherapy can provide you with exercises to strengthen your forearm muscles, which will help reduce the stress on your tendons. A physiotherapist can also provide advice on modifying your guitar playing technique to prevent future injury.

Medications and Injections

Over-the-counter pain relievers and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can help manage pain and reduce inflammation. In more severe cases, a doctor might recommend corticosteroid injections.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can guitar playing cause tennis elbow?Yes, guitar playing can cause tennis elbow due to the repetitive strain it puts on the tendons in your forearm.
  2. How can I prevent tennis elbow from playing the guitar?Maintaining proper technique and posture, taking regular breaks, and doing stretches can help prevent tennis elbow.
  3. What is the treatment for tennis elbow caused by playing the guitar?The RICE method, physiotherapy, medications, and possibly injections are the usual treatment options.
  4. Can other musical instruments cause tennis elbow?Yes, playing any instrument that requires repetitive hand, wrist, or arm movements can potentially lead to tennis elbow.
  5. Can I continue to play the guitar if I have tennis elbow?While it may be possible to play with mild symptoms, it’s crucial to rest and treat your injury. Prolonged strain may worsen the condition.
  6. Does playing the guitar always lead to tennis elbow?Not always. However, prolonged, repetitive strain without adequate rest or poor technique can increase the risk.

Wrapping It Up: The Connection Between Strings and Elbows

Tennis elbow is an unpleasant condition, but it’s certainly not a reason to stop your passion for playing the guitar. By being aware of the risks, maintaining proper technique, and taking regular breaks, you can reduce your chance of developing this condition. So, can guitar playing cause tennis elbow? It can, but with the right precautions and care, you can continue strumming those strings without striking a painful chord in your elbow.

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