Neck stiff and back hurts - about correct sitting

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...

Neck stiff and back hurts - about correct sitting

Post by Cheech » Fri May 02, 2008 9:37 pm

Hi everyone,

first of all i am planning to see a guitar teacher (right now i´m not seeing one) and this is not at all a medical questions, for these i will go to my doctor, so please feel free to share your opinions about this.

I´m exercising on a daily basis, the approximate duration is from around one to three hours.

I´ve always had a rather stiff neck (for which i have been seeing my doc) but in the last weeks my neck is getting ever more stiff(er?) and my back is starting to hurt.

I tried to check my sitting position, let the shoulders loose without too much tension, tried to hold the back straight (but not too straight, i´m not a robot :mrgreen: )

I´m using a footrest in the "typical" (i would say) classical guitaris postion with the guitar on the left thigh.
I tried adjusting the footrest to another position, but that was not good for the hand positioning, so i returned it to the original setting.

So now i am thinking about using maybe a different chair.

Do you have experience in this? What would you say the height of such a chair - to be spending hours in playing guitar - should be?
I am 1.76 meters tall (that would be 5.77 feet).

i think i will have to look after my back (besides the medical influences, which would mean sports and such for me) and maybe you have tipps for such "furniture" which woul be suitable.

Thanks a lot!


Re: Neck stiff and back hurts - about correct sitting

Post by ramsnake » Fri May 02, 2008 10:43 pm

Lots of discussion on the matter here! ... 71&t=24543


Re: Neck stiff and back hurts - about correct sitting

Post by Cheech » Sat May 03, 2008 8:29 am

Thanks for the link, i wasn´t quite aware that my problem had to do with the footrest. :merci:

Todd Tipton
Posts: 474
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA

Re: Neck stiff and back hurts - about correct sitting

Post by Todd Tipton » Sat May 03, 2008 4:08 pm

As far as a chair goes, you might try putting a couple of thin hardback books under the back legs. Sometime when you are sitting in your chair with the guitar, have a friend stand befind you and lift the back legs off of the ground a little. Sit a few moments paying attention to your back. Then, have your friend set the chair back on the floor. Often, students will then feel a tremendous difference and want to elevate the back legs immediately. Also, you might want to consider any of the various alternatives to a footstool if you haven't already.

As long as there are no medical problems, you might want to look into some Alexander technique lessons. The good thing about AT, is that even a couple or three lessons can make a tremendous difference. It is a simple fact that, as adults, almost -all- people carry tremendous amounts of excess tension at all times which is -literally- slowly crippling them.
Dr. Todd Tipton, Noda Guitar Studio
Charlotte, NC, USA (available via Skype)

User avatar
Posts: 7484
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Neck stiff and back hurts - about correct sitting

Post by Michael.N. » Sun May 04, 2008 8:41 am

Back, upper back and shoulder pain isn't that uncommon - especially amongst musicians. It is something that I suffer from and it is definitely related to guitar playing. Certainly try playing without the footstool and using one of the various types of ergo rests.
Try some of the exercises in the link (if you aren't doing so presently), they really helped me with my lower and upper back problems. Of course take note of the warnings and the legal disclaimer.

User avatar
Posts: 1588
Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:20 pm
Location: Rome, New York

Re: Neck stiff and back hurts - about correct sitting

Post by freestroke » Sun May 04, 2008 1:06 pm

Most people think of yoga as contemplating one's navel while saying "Ohmmmm", but there are some very fine exercises that don't require you to stand on your head or twist your body into a pretzel. From the sounds of things, I think "The Moving Cat" would help you out. A few reps a few times a day works wonders for a stiff back, sore shoulders and neck pain, requires no equipment and you don't have to work up a sweat!

As for a seat, I'm 5'7" with shortish legs, and a regular chair is just too tall for me to play guitar comfortably. I either sit on the couch or on a keyboard bench. The keyboard bench is one of those inexpensive adjustable jobs, but the adjustment started at a setting for a guitarist that's at least 5'9" and goes on up to fit about a 7 footer. I drilled a new setting that set's it at 16.5 inches high and it's perfect!

There's also the matter of the guitar angle -- I find less tension with a steeper angle, probably because I don't have my left hand so far from my body that way.
Hell is full of amateur musicians -- GB Shaw


Re: Neck stiff and back hurts - about correct sitting

Post by Cheech » Mon May 19, 2008 9:40 pm

Thanks a lot to all for the tipps!

I tried some of it and it really is getting better with my back and my neck. I try to make longer breaks if i´m playing for several hours and do some stretching in between and it actually does help.

I´m looking to replace the footrest with a "guitar - cushion". I found one in the accessories supply of an online store in germany.

In the description it was stated, that with using this "cushion" one can leave the footrest, for the guitar get´s up high enough.

What i also tried out was the steeper angel, i adjusted the footrest to an even higher setting and i must say (didn´t really expect it), that it improved things a little, so i am playing with that higher adjustment now.

Being aware of the back and the posture while sitting and playing the guitar is helping as well.

The cushion was sold out, i hope to get mine in a week or two, i´ll post my experience on this as soon as i have gathered some.

:merci: everyone!

Return to “Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists”