Beginner Finger Stretches

I get a lot of pain on the back of my hand near the wrist after two or three run-throughs, so I have to stop and give it a bit of a rest. I can sympathise with anyone experiencing difficulties with this exercise.

@SombreJungle , I suspect you may be bending your wrist too much, if that’s where you are feeling the pain.

This exercise develops the muscles that spread the fingers (interosseus, IIRC).

Also, how many minutes do you practice this one exercise? Over practice is another possibility.

You were right to take a break. “Just push through the pain” is almost always a disaster for guitar playing.

1 Like

@Tbushell I probably am, but I can’t reach the sixth string otherwise :palm_up_hand: Hopefully regular breaks will help. I end each day’s practice with four minutes of stretching as a ‘cool-down’, and probably do a couple of runs (down/up/down/up) five or six times a day whenever I have a break from work (I work from home). I try to space it out tho, and I definitely stop as soon as it starts to hurt.

That all sounds reasonable. Other possibilities are your sitting position or guitar neck angle.

It may pass, but if it’s not any better in the next few days, I suggest you post pictures or videos showing you doing the exercise, which would help us troubleshoot.

Woah, that’s a scary prospect :grimacing: You might have to point me to the topic/thread that explains how to do that . . . regardless, I very much appreciate the offer of feedback.
Another option might be to get a second guitar, string it for left-handed playing, and use my right hand for the finger stretches (just call me ElgnujErbmos :upside_down_face:)

@Tbushell You were absolutely right: I revisited Justin’s How To Hold Your Guitar lesson, and the angle of his wrist when he leans his guitar towards him is exactly like mine when I’m doing finger stretches. So now I’m concentrating on keeping my wrist level with the rest of my arm as much as I can and it’s much less painful. Thank you.

Glad I could help.

As it happens, I’ve just developed some wrist pain myself…related to thumb muting, I think, but I’m still in the process of figuring it out.

Who ever dreamed that guitar playing could be so dangerous? :slight_smile:

1 Like

Grade 1 - Module 4 - Lesson 1 - Beginner Finger Stretches. I take on board your comments about your little pinky but some of us have small hands, full stop. So stretching the pinky over to the fourth fret just isn’t going to happen.
If I could attach a photo I would but…taking a line from just under the fleshy part of my palm and just above my wrist my measurement to the tip of my fingers are - Index finger 165mm, Middle finger 180mm, ring finger 170mm and my poor pinky 140mm. I know it’s a tad sad comment but I can see from the video your left hand is cupped under the fret nicely and your pinky reaches out ok. I know I have to improvise and the only way to do that is swing my pinky into position and let my index finger and middle finger off the stings. Now…bar chords…hmmmm, I’m on a loser there. Anyway, just had to say some of us still struggle but so far, what a great set of lessons and I will down load the app and pay my dues.

Hi Jerry,

I am not sure how you measure the length of your fingers. Is it from your wrist to fingertip, or from base of the finger at the palm to the tip?

From the heel of my palm to the tip of my pinkie I get about 138 mm. From base of finger to tip is 60 mm. Using the pinkie on the 6th string in fret 4 is definitely not easy and it is hard to get that note to ring clearly, but I can do it, although inconsistently at this point. In earlier days I would have said impossible.

Keep doing the finger stretching exercise. At first you will definitely have to let the other fingers “cheat” a little (or a lot). You will get the very unpleasant “thunk” sound a lot because your finger will not be strong enough to press firmly, especially since you will only be able to reach the back part of the fret. Very gradually it will improve if you keep working on it consistently. You will make tiny changes as your fingers teach themselves how to adapt. Your ability to stretch will improve. Your little finger will get stronger. These are all micro changes, and you may not even be aware of the changes because they really are tiny.

I am not saying this will ever be easy, but I think if you work at it patiently you will be able to do more than you think!

Good luck!

1 Like

Hi @Jerry61 and welcome to the community.
Little hands / short fingers is a common cause for people to get frustrated or divert from some technique / skill / development.
Initially you may struggle to span four frets on all six strings. you should be able to do it on some strings. Start there. Then build up the stretch-ability bit by bit.

Cheers :blush:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator


Continuing the discussion from Beginner Finger Stretches:

I just want to add to this chat thread and hope it provides encouragement. I just turned 68 and have been following Justin’s course since February this year. When I started the finger stretching exercise, I thought there is no way I can do this. But guess what! After three weeks of practice of 30 minutes, 5 days a week, I can do the exercise. I also notice that the D minor was also hard and my ring finger refused to get out of the way. Now I can play the D minor with the ring finger well out of the way! Just keep practicing, it does get easier and suddenly you can do it. If I can do it so can you.


Great support and encouragement @texasnick :+1:
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher

I’m 67 and started in February also. In a few more months we should meet and go on tour! And great news about your finger stretching. Mine still need work.

Well done, Texasnick! When I started a few years ago (at 66-67) I quickly realized that there were a lot of muscles that went unused for a long time. But strength and coordination came back with a little patience and application. Bravo!

#PAPA_G great to hear that old muscles still work after a long rest :slight_smile:

#wmlaven That would be fun for us, not so sure about the audience LoL. #Papa_G says it just takes time and practice :+1:

Hi all, my first post here and really enjoying and getting on well with the lessons.

Hit my first hurdle though.

I know small hands aren’t an issue to play guitar as little kids can play it. So just looking for a bit of advice with this exercise.

I have small hands and a really tiny pinkie, Justin mentions his is small, it’s way bigger than mine, mine barely makes it past the first joint of my 3rd finger and it has a bend in it from a break years ago.
When I have my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers on the 5th, 6th and 7th frets on the 6th string that’s fine, but my pinkie just makes it to the 3rd string.

The only way I could do Peter Gunn was with 3 fingers or my wrist very contorted to the extent I felt like I was putting it into a martial arts wristlock.

So should I be contorting my wrist to play the 4th, 5th and 6th strings to the extent that any lower strings would be unplayable as the pinkie has no choice but to press on them?
As that’s the only way I can do this currently, obviously hoping the stretches assist with this.

Couple of pics to help envisage what I’m talking about.


Welcome, Alasdair.

Firstly, if you intend to be active in the Community then I suggest posting an intro with a little personal background, guitar history, and goals/aspirations in #community-hub:introduce-yourself

On your pinky challenges, Justin has exercises that specifically work on stretch and you will also find over time just through playing stretch and control improves. You will see this in the long-term if you play regularly.

That said, the bend plus length may always make some things either not manageable or uncomfortable, you don’t want to be contorting and stressing as it will lead to injury in the long-term. In that case find alternatives.

For example, play Peter Gunn with three fingers and moving the hand up the fretboard to reach the note that one is ideally playing with the pinky and developing that stretch to cover four frets, with a finger per fret.

For a famous example of this, albeit a guitar legend, check out Django Reinhardt who developed a unique style due to a fretting hand disability through an accident.

1 Like

Hi Alasdair and welcome.

Also thanks for the pictures as it clearly demonstrates the challenge. If you doing Peter Gunn I assume you are at the end of Module 2 maybe starting Module 3 of Grade 1. The stretches David refers to (well one of them) actually comes up in Module 4 but would benefit you now if you have not seen it already.

Justin talks about starting on the 5th fret but even that can be a little tough to start with. To get used to the exercise and limit the amount of initial fret try starting 2 frets higher at the 7th or even higher. This will gradually open the span of your fingers but be careful to do it slowly and as Justin describes. I still do this as a warm up and start at the 9th fret and work back to the nut.

The other thing that will help with playing riffs on the 6th and 5th string is placing your thumb lower on the neck, I notice in the 2nd pic its at the top on the neck. Having your thumb in the middle to lower half of the neck give you greater range and also help open you fingers up. The other thing is to raise the neck so it is at an angle of about 30 degrees, which effectively brings the strings down to where your pinkie is and places less strain on the wrist.

Hope that helps, let us know how you get on.



1 Like

Thanks very much, both for the assistance and suggestions. I’ll try them out in my practice sessions this week.

1 Like