When playing Bass, sometimes my left wrist starts to feel a little crampy- especially when practicing modal scales and chord arpeggios at slightly faster tempos. My right wrist also sometimes starts feeling crampy after a while when practicing 16th notes at slightly faster tempos.

I try to keep good posture with my back and shoulders, hold the bass at a comfortable angle, and use my left arm to do as much of the work as possible when pressing down strings to the fretboard, but after prolonged practice, the cramping feelings start to come.

I've been told by my teacher that it's important to stop or slow down practice if I start feeling signs of pain because "ignoring" the pain and practicing on at that point can lead to injury in the long term, so I also make sure to stop at those points. I do also trust that in the long term, my muscles will grow stronger and I'll be able to play for longer. But I also think stretches could help a little in the short term.

My teacher mentioned that he does wrist stretches to help prevent cramping (I guess it's similar to how athletes to stretches before physical activity).

What kinds of stretches are helpful to prevent wrist cramping when playing Bass?

Please try to describe the stretches as best you can in words. If you can supplement the descriptions with diagrams or videos, that would also be quite helpful.

I did see this existing question, but the question is about causes of cramping and not about wrist stretches.

Since my teacher told me about some of the stretches he does, I'll share those in a self-answer, but I'm really curious to know if there are other stretches my teacher doesn't know about or didn't tell me about (it was quite a while ago and I'm no longer in close contact with them).

  • 1
    Even though you notice the discomfort in wrist/forearm, I'd encourage you to think about relaxing and stretching in the bigger picture too—whole arm, shoulder muscles, etc. And that relaxing the muscles is just as important as stretching them. I find simply "shaking it out" frequently is good, or making big windmill motions. Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 0:17
  • Relax your hands. Something as a severe as a cramp indicates tension in your hands. Music is meant to be enjoyed. Even if you make a mistake the music police will not arrest you.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 7:39

2 Answers 2


As promised, here are the wrist stretches my teacher told me about:

  1. Hold forward the arm you want to stretch. Hold it out straight, completly outstretched, and perpendicular to your body and parallel to the ground.

    1. Point the palm outward with fingers pointing up. Use the other hand to gently bend the fingers and hand toward the body. Do it enough that you feel a little bit of stretching. Don't overdo it! You could injure yourself by stretching too hard.

    2. Do the same thing except with the fingers pointing downward.

  2. Hold both arms outward to the sides (like a T-pose). Hold them out straight, completly outstretched, and perpendicular to your body and parallel to the ground.

    1. Point the palms outward and fingers upward such that you feel a bit of stretching in the wrists. Don't overdo it.

    2. Do the same thing except with fingers pointing downward.

    3. Now to help relax the wrists after stretching, repeat the previous steps except with the palms pointing inward (this should be more comfortable)

  • 1
    These are good; I use #1 regularly. And "don't overdo it" is important; it's possible to injure yourself just by stretching zealously! Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 0:16

Pain is God's way of telling the recipient 'you've done enough of that for now - give it a rest!' Take notice, and stop at that point. Or move on to different activities, more gentle, while giving the 'injured' body parts time to recover.

I can't understand why modal scales should be any more stretchy than any other scales, and arpeggios can be re-figured so that the stretches are minimised. Think more about fingering. Are you using certain finger patterns which mean you have to stretch further than needed?

For starters, keep your practice times down to shorter than you already use - work out when the pain starts, and crop a couple of minutes off that time next practice session. You say you're holding the bass correctly, but try finding other positions which may be more correct for you. Like having the whole bass so that the head is far higher than the body - more like a double bass player's way of playing, or somewhere in between.

There must be plenty of 'stretching' exercises that you can come up with yourself, but I recommend working more on not needing them, instead changing your playing. Are you sitting or standing? That will make a big difference in itself. How high/low do you sling your bass? Is it a 4 or 5 string? Does it happen with just the one or any bass you happen to play?

I could proffer ideas for exercises, but first I'd be looking at other factors which may be causing that discomfort. Even changing to a short scale bass guitar, where the stretches obviously won't be as wide anyway.

O.k., so you wanted some exercises. Start well up the neck, one finger per fret. Play chromatically, as fast as you need, up and down, and gradually move down to the 1st-4th frets. Please don't try to keep all fingers touching the strings as you move - the index finger will have no purpose being left on while the other fingers are pressed down!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.