**The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
We’ve all been guilty of over-practicing. And, whether string, brass or other, every musician is bound to encounter one form or another of symptoms caused by over-practicing.
So what do we mean by that? Using a guitar player as an example, it’s very easy to see how playing with poor posture for long periods of time could easily result in rounded shoulders, not to mention sore fingers and often tight forearms/neck muscles brought about by holding chord positions and practicing scales for hours on end.
This article will show you how to combat symptoms of over-practicing, and combined with taking regular breaks and leaving your instrument for 5-10 minutes of every hour, these 5 stretches will get you back on track following that post-practice soreness. Let’s get to it!
The Door Frame
As you naturally become more and more hunched due to the length of time spent practicing, your posture and playing form will suffer. This first stretch is a gentle opener of the chest, prompting you to stand tall and lightly stretch the front and back of the neck along with the front of your body.
- Stand facing a door frame and place your elbows along each side of the frame.
- Gently lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the chest.
- To make the stretch slightly deeper, lean forward and look slowly from left to right, pausing where you can feel tension.
Forearm/Wrist Stretch – The Desk Press
The desk press is incredibly simple and can be done anywhere. You simply:
- Sit or stand with your forearms facing upwards.
- Place your palms under the desk and gently push upwards.
- Work with the tension to identify sore points, and repeat as necessary.
Shoulder Circles with Open Arm Super Stretch
This stretch will get your shoulders moving, with a final focus on posture and opening up any tight neck muscles.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
- With palms facing out, make a slow circle with your arms.
- As you return to the starting point, raise both arms out in front of you and squeeze the top of your back, which will fully opens up the muscles in your neck and chest.
- Hold as desired, then begin again.
Neck Stretch – Side to Side
This exercise is often overlooked as being ‘too simple’, however if performed right is incredibly effective:
- Sit or stand with your shoulders relaxed.
- Slowly lower your left ear to your left shoulder. You should feel a slight stretch running along your neck.
- For extra intensity, lightly press your head with your left hand, pulling the left ear lower to the shoulder.
- Repeat on the other side.
Finally, we have the ultimate stretch for lower backs, which can get particularly sore when practicing in the same position for hours and hours!
Lower Back Combination Stretch – Downward Dog & Back Rolls
- Start by kneeling down on a mat or soft surface.
- Push your glutes back and down and extend your arms out as you bring your head straight down into the floor.
- Continue to stretch by reaching out with your hands and flexing your fingers/hands. You should feel a stretch in the mid and lower back regions.
- Once held, release and lie down on your back with your knees clasped to your chest.
- With your elbows tucked in, gently rock side to side, massaging the lower back.
- Repeat as necessary.
And there you have it. The perfect, no-equipment-needed guide to stretching for musicians who have gone a little bit too far when practicing!
This article was written by James Taylor of https://guitaarr.com/, a guitar reviews site full of buyers guides and useful articles for players of all levels.