Can Strapping On A Guitar Hurt Your Back?

I play an acoustic guitar for a Church choir, and I may be on my feet with a jumbo acoustic guitar across my shoulders for hours for rehearsals and Mass-performances.  After a busy Easter season, I woke up to feel a significant pain at my upper back and chest.  On seeing a doctor, it was discovered I had a slipped disc in my back, which was caused by continuous stress on my back with carrying the guitar, and my turning left and right when playing the guitar and overseeing the choir.

Much rest and physiotherapy ensued, and with no guitar over my shoulder for many weeks, I was eventually fine.  However, I also discovered that the long term remedy was NOT to support my guitar with a guitar strap that was fastened onto the two ends of the guitar body.
(Butt of the guitar to the heel of the neck) 

Rather, I had the strap fastened to the butt end of the guitar, and the other end to the tuner end of the neck under the strings behind the nut.  The pressure on my shoulders was significantly relieved.  I think with that way of wearing the strap, it was not putting focused pressure on my left shoulder, but rather more evenly across my back.  I have not had problems with my back or the slipped disc since.

So, this is something worth considering if you need to play with a large and/or heavy guitar, standing for prolonged lengths of time.

Mark Huang
Hong Kong

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