What To Do if Your Shoulder Hurts When Playing on the G String

by | Dec 18, 2013 | Play Comfortably | 2 comments

Do you have pain in you shoulder when you are playing on the G string on the violin a lot (C string in case you play the viola)?

Why does my shoulder hurt?


Lifting the shoulder

String changes should be done by moving the elbow and upper arm up and down. The shoulder should be relaxed.

However, lot of people tend to not only move their upper arm, but also lift the shoulder up towards the ear. This causes painful tension in the shoulder. Even lifting the shoulder a few millimetres can cause a lot of pain in the long run.


A tense bow arm

Some people have a very tense bow arm, this can cause pain as well. Instead of pushing your bow, try to use the weight of your arm to play the G-string. You can hear and feel the difference! In the video I show you an example.

Incorrect adjustment of the shoulder rest

An incorrect adjustment of the shoulder rest can cause two problems:

  1. The shoulder rest is too high.

Having a high shoulder rest might seem comfortable at first, but the higher you lift your violin, the higher you have to lift your bow arm. This causes tension and pain in your shoulders. If you want a higher rest for your chin, adjust your chin rest rather than your shoulder rest.

2. The shoulder rest is lifted too much at the front.

Lifting the shoulder rest at the front causes the violin to tilt backwards. You then have to lift your bow arm higher, which results in a painful shoulder. Adjust your shoulder rest so that your violin tilts forward a bit. I show you the difference in the video.


So, what can I do about this?

Make sure you push your shoulder down. Relax your shoulder muscles and let your arm hang heavily while you play the G-string.

Check your shoulder rest! You can lower the shoulder rest as a whole or lower the shoulder rest at the front so the violin tilts forward a bit. Adjusting your shoulder rest can relieve tension in your upper arm and shoulder.


Hopefully, these tips help you get rid of your shoulder pain!

PS: Do you want to see YOUR question answered in a Violin Lounge TV episode? Post a comment below!


  1. Alison Stewart

    I found this video on the right shoulder when i was looking for help with my left. I’ve tried so much physio and even cortisone injections but my left shoulder is constantly painful when playing my viola. I’ve switched to a smaller size instrument but still can’t solve the problem. Do you have any tips or exercised specific to violin/viola left shoulder pain? It seems to be connected to the rotation.

    • Zlata

      Hi Alison, although I can’t see your violin posture, so can’t give individual feedback, I hope this is helpful: mostly left shoulder pain is caused by raising the shoulder or reaching forward during playing. This can be solved by a well fitting shoulder rest, maybe also the chinrest and some changes in your posture. Check out my more extensive video on violin posture right here. Good luck!



  1. Should You Lift or Rotate Your Shoulder when Bowing on the G String | Violin Lounge - […] In this episode of Violin Lounge TV I answer a question from a viewer. Mike Pearson writes as a…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *