Many players will experience pain from playing at some point. The pain mostly occurs in the hands, fingers, shoulders, back and spine. The pain can be caused by contractions or muscular wear and tear.
However, the most likely causes of injury are bad posture and not stretching/warming up. Playing the classical guitar should be a pleasure; you should do everything you can to avoid injuries that can prevent you from playing.
Some Tips and Tricks:
First things first, you should warm up your limbs with circular motions and light stretches, don’t force it! Sit comfortably and feeling relaxed but with your back straight; don’t slouch.
It may feel more comfortable for some people to play with their legs crossed, we recommend that you do not do this. Sit with both feet flat on the floor to create a stable position so that the weight of your body is spread equally over both legs.
The guitar should be close to your body but not pushing into your ribs. If the guitar is squashing your ribs, you will have difficulty breathing and feel uncomfortable. The guitar should never be pushing on any part of your body; it should always be resting but secure.
Avoid sharp or extreme movements with your neck. For beginners this can be difficult as you will want to look at the neck to make sure your fingers are on the correct frets. Find a position where you can look down at the sound hole for you plucking and the neck without craning your neck.
For experienced players or older players, here are some additional tips:
If pain is occurring whilst you are playing, you should stop immediately. Have a rest and do a different activity such as walking or tidying your room. After 5 minutes or once the pain has subsided, return to playing and see how you feel. Pay attention to see if you can isolate any movements or postures that make the pain return.
If you have any swelling, then an ice pack is normally one of the best self-treatments available. If you are still in pain after not playing for a few days, then you should go and see your doctor. If you see a physiotherapist you can take your guitar with you so the physio can see your posture when you are playing.
There is no reason why guitar players should not be able to play for their whole lives; to ensure this make sure you pay attention to yourself and be mindful of your body when you are playing.