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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Guitar Fretting Hand & Pick Hand Fatigues Easily

I am not posting the question, for privacy reasons, but this is a question from one of our professional guitarist regarding the common problem of fatigue, something we see all of the time from our GHS musicians. Understanding the body's performance principles - in this case, kinetic chain stability - is key.

Here is my reply:

Guitarist X:

The issue of weakness and fatigue in the fretting hand is more common than you think - and is very much related to the idea of ‘core stability’. This is a term that is common in general exercise, relating to strengthening the abdomen/lower back/flank, thus stabilizing the center of the body to prepare the body’s base for any type of movement movement.

The same is true for the finger muscles & finger muscle activity, as in fretting or picking. The stabilizers of the fingers are (in order): 1) the finger/wrist extensor muscles, 2) the biceps/triceps (especially triceps), 3) the shoulder musculature, 4) the commonly referred to ‘core stabilizing’ trunk musculature (including latissimus dorsi). It is all one big kinetic chain… when one link of the chain is weak, fatigue WILL occur, performance will be compromised, and injury is likely. The finger/wrist extensor muscles check out weak on almost all musicians that we test, because these initial stabilizer muscles fire statically (especially the finger extensors) when a musicians plays or practices. They contract in one position and are not moving, like the finger flexors. This results in muscles that become stronger for a while, eventually plateau in strength, and then weaken.

Handmaster Plus strengthens these HUGELY important finger extensor muscles through their full ROM (range of motion), not statically like most so-called ‘grip strengtheners.’ The traditional ‘grip strengtheners’ that you probably were using in your ‘manic’ exercise stage improve grip strength, plateau, and then are ineffective because they make the finger extensors contract statically, and thus pay no proper attention to the first chain of finger stabilizing (the finger extensors). Make sense?

Most trainers understand 2)-4) of this kinetic chain, but have little understanding of 1). This is where Handmaster Plus stands alone. You can buy one through the internet ( or in Canada at any Shopper’s Home Health location. Follow the 3 exercises that are available at You will notice a vast improvement in 3-4 weeks of exercise. As well you will notice vastly improved circulation to and from the hand/wrist/forearm area. This is vital to all musicians as, just like athletes, musicians must learn to prepare the body for activity. This means warming up and cooling down. Use Handmaster Plus for both. Cooling down is especially important for recovery as it stimulates venous blood flow and lymphatic drainage, thus removing toxic end-products relating to constant muscle contractions (which can lead to tissue damage) from the muscles. It is a basic exercise principle that MUST be adapted to and adopted by musicians (what is adapted is adopted).


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