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I'm tagging this as specific to classical guitar since that's what I am familiar with. The correct posture is very important which playing classical, including the footstool, the position of your hands, shoulders, wrist, back and neck. Prolonged bad posture can lead to injuries. How can one always be conscious of these things and maintain correct posture? Additionally, what are some good exercises to prevent injuries (along the lines of RSI prevention exercises for computer users) ?

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4 Answers

I had to stop using a footstool altogether and instead put both feet flat on the floor and use a cushion to elevate the guitar into the correct playing angle. This enabled me to keep my spine straight and my hips in the right alignment.

The other device you can use is a support bracket that attaches to the underside of your guitar.

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I'm convinced that using a footstool actually fights against good posture by encouraging your pelvis and spine to assume stressful positions which can cause all kinds of fatigue.

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I know this isn't the "typical" classical guitar posture (and in fact, classical guitarists are going to flame you), but I find it relaxing.

However, keep in mind it is also harder to play guitar with this posture.

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I don't think there's a 'correct' posture, it's different for everyone. Sure there are conventions people follow, guitar on left leg, footstool, etc, but the best one for you is the one that allows you to play what you need to play without any pain. I'm a tall guy and I went through dozens of different setups before I found something I liked.

Taking breaks after 45 minutes is a good piece of advice, while subjective, I'd also state that you shouldn't practice more than 4 hours a day. If it takes longer than that to do your exercises and work on your pieces, you need to adjust your strategy.

One of the biggest things you can do with your posture is to always make sure you're aware of what you're doing with you body when you're playing. When playing, occasionally stop and ask yourself if you're tensing any muscles in your hands, body, jaw. Playing in front of a full body mirror or video recording yourself can help.

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+1. I've found the recording approach to be really helpful - catches a lot of small errors. I wish I could practice 4 hours :) - due to my day job etc I can only put in an hour every day. –  talonx Jan 22 '11 at 3:59
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Pick a hard chair, sit towards the front of the chair and have a foot rest for your right leg. Don't cross your legs while playing, don't sit back in the chair as if you're going to enjoy a cocktail - you can adopt that posture after a solid 10 years of practice. As always, when it comes to the back, it also helps if you actually exercise: sit-ups help, don't laugh!! Take breaks every 45 minutes and remember that when you are practicing scales some of the physical stress might work it's way from your finger-tips, down your wrists, through your forearms, and eventually end up in your lower back: Breath, Relax and Break up repetitive exercises with fun pieces!!

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+1. I exercise regularly. My job involves a lot of computer activity, so I need to be careful about posture there too. I already have some symptoms of RSI in my left hand - so I've become really careful about doing 'the right way' any activity which involves the hands and wrists. –  talonx Jan 22 '11 at 4:02
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