I hear you 'lefty' and you too 'gingold'. Younger guitarist should use techniques and/or smaller guitar sizes to naturally develop a larger stretch. If you feel pain you should stop IMMEDIATELY. I, on the other hand am 53 and stopped growing, well at least my hands have stopped growing, a number of years ago. With that being said, I also do not want to harm my hands.
Neil, could you offer any insight into this discussion?
I had not considered doing exercises to increase my stretch between frets. I do warm up with a spring loaded hand exerciser to loosen up, but have just played a piece over and over until the chord, or fingerstyle movement becomes second nature. I have small hands too. I believe that stretching makes sense... to a point. I can only control some things in this life... and work around the rest. I am not going to be able to echo the movement of a phenomenal guitarist whose fingers are 1/2 inch longer than mine... no matter how much I would like to. So I make the music mine. I play as closely as I can to the original, if that is my intent, or I take a song and put a personal spin on it. After all, those we hold in great esteem didn't try to copy someone else ALL of the time. 0:)