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Didn’t think so.

So stop with the ridiculous hand stretching exercises

I understand that muscles and tendons need to be warmed up but come on, you don’t need to be massaging your biceps and stretching your pecs.

Don’t believe me?

At some point I just started laughing? Then again, John is becoming more pec-minded these days.

Dream Theater guitarist dreams of protein

Okay I know he’s an incredibly skilled guitarist, however I feel compelled to argue against excessive stretching and warm-up exercises. I think his stretches exemplify more of his own methodical Berklee nature.

Why do people stretch?

The reason guitarists do a warmup stretch on their hands before playing is to reduce injuries and increase performance. What kind of stretching do you mostly see? It’s pulling fingers and wrists back and holding it for a few seconds. Right…this doesn’t prevent injury or increase performance. There are studies to support it, and it has to do with static versus dynamic stretching.

Static vs dynamic

Static stretching are techniques to stretch muscles when the body is at rest. You probably did these kinds of stretches in PE – bend down, touch your toes, and hold. For guitarists these are the kinds of stretches where you see them pulling at fingers, wrists, and sometimes their triceps. This kind of stretching is best for “cooling down” after a workout or guitar practice session. However for a pre-practice warmup, static stretching doesn’t actually prevent injuries and decreases performance.

Dynamic stretching are techniques to stretch muscles within form and motion while not pushing the limits of the muscle’s range too far. In athletics this would be things like forward kicks, lunges, and prisoner squats. For guitarists this means finger exercises on the guitar itself. These can be a stretchy scale or difficult chords that require a little more reach, and starting slow while working up to a faster speed. This is the best stretch method for warmups.

There is ONE static stretching routine that is doctor researched/recommended as a warmup and it’s to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Ouch! Carpal tunnel!

This is what a hand looks like after surgery for carpal tunnel.

Besides warming up to play this should be the main reason you stretch. My main day job has me typing all day so it’s something that’s even more important for me. I think these are some great easy exercises to prevent carpal tunnel.


Severe carpal tunnel is very painful and can only be corrected by surgery.

Mike Einziger, the guitarist for Incubus, had to undergo surgery for carpal tunnel and at his level of career that can be very devastating. I also have a friend with severe carpal tunnel and it’s too painful for her to lift a milk jug!

Warm up musically

So the message is clear: Use scales, chords, melodies, and the like to warm-up. If John has been bulking up off dead lifts, then any professional dead lifter would tell him that static stretching before dead lifting is bad.


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