Playing the guitar requires strong, flexible fingers. You need to be able to move your fingers easily along the neck of the guitar while holding the strings firmly. Your fingers also need the proper dexterity to both work together and independently of each other. Stretching your fingers and conducting regular finger exercises will help keep your hands loose and in shape for guitar playing.
Physically warming-up the muscles in your hands is a good idea before you start practicing your guitar. It will help prevent cramps and soreness. One basic exercise is to open and close your hands simply, a few times in a row. Make tight fists with both hands, and hold them for a few seconds. Then, open your hand wide and let your fingers stretch out. Hold the stretch for a few seconds; make a fist again. Rotate your hands at the wrists in one direction a few times, and then in the other direction a few times.
Properly stretching your fingers out before playing your guitar is a good idea as well. Just like any muscle before exercising, your finger and hand muscles need to be stretched out if you expect them to perform properly. This will help to make your hands more flexible and avoid any pain or cramping from overuse. To stretch your fingers, place the tip of your finger on the edge of a table and slowly arch your hand upward while keeping your fingertip firm. Just slightly stretch it and return back to the starting position. Then, repeat the exercise with each finger on both hands.
The worm is a chord exercise you play on your guitar that will help you warm up your hands and loosen your fingers up. Practicing this exercise regularly will also help improve your dexterity and quickness with fingering on the neck of the guitar. At first, you probably will not get very far on this drill. With practice and time, you will be able to perform the routine from one end of the neck to the other. Start out with your first finger on the E string in fret 9, second finger on B in fret 10, third finger on G in fret 11, and fourth finger on D in fret 12. Pick each string once and then move each finger down a fret, one at time, as you play each string. So, on your second play, you will have all fingers in the same spots except your first finger should move from fret 9 to fret 8. On the next play, your second finger will move from fret 10 to fret 9. Next play, your third finger will go from 11 to 10 and so on. Keep playing like this until you feel your fingers are too tired to continue.