Practice Tip of the Week:
Stretch Out Before You Work Out
(Musicians as Athletes)

Physical comfort while playing your instrument is
important, and your actions before and after you play
also greatly influence your ability to perform.

Too often, musicians feel they can just pick up their
instrument, play for an hour or two, and then walk away
with no regard to the demands they place on their bodies.

You may not regard your playing as an athletic endeavor.
After all, your heartbeat generally won’t rise to its
target exercise rate, and you may not sweat while you play.

But, your muscles, joints, and spine are all being taxed.
Make sure your body is ready for this physical demand
before you start playing music.

Like all good athletes, musicians should stretch out
before practicing or playing. It’s a great idea to
stretch afterward also.

You don’t need to do 30 minutes of yoga or Tai Chi.
Even a few minutes of basic stretching will pay off.
Stretch your neck, your legs, your arms, and your hands.
A little stretching now could save you from injury later.

Many musicians develop tightness or pain in specific areas.
Perhaps this is the case for you. If so, focus your stretching
on that area and related areas in your body.

For instance, if your hands tighten up while you play, stretch
not only your hands, but also your wrists, arms, shoulders,
neck, and back.

To improve their performance, musicians can also use other
methods favored by athletes. In addition to stretching, it
can be useful to apply heat or ice to painful or tight muscles.
Massage, Alexander Technique, and Feldenkrais are helpful for
some musicians.

If you think of yourself as an athlete, you will take the
time to prepare yourself for practicing and performing.
Stretching just might keep you healthy.

Then, you will be able to enjoy playing music for a lifetime.

To Your Musical Success!