After my wrist and forearm issues started flaring up again, I decided to take a closer look at how to get my body ready for playing. I knew immediately that I wasn’t going to stretch in the traditional sense. It was never effective for me. In fact, I feel like it made things worse. I now have a sense why.
A few years ago, I had a personal trainer and got in the best shape of my life. Also, I learned what I had been doing wrong in previous attempts to work out. The most relevant revelation had to do with warming up.
My trainer taught me a dynamic stretching routine at the very outset of these sessions. I didn’t even question it but he gave me a whole spiel about why one should do dynamic stretches before a workout and static stretches afterwards. As we progressed and started adding some serious strength training to my regimen, he added some preworkout static stretches.
Fast forward to when I started playing again, I looked back at my old preplaying stretching routine and realized that it would sometimes make me play worse. No wonder why I abandoned it.
I began thinking about how to come up with a new way of preparing my body for playing. I googled “stretches for musicians” and “stretching before practicing” which yielded some disappointing results. The same shit I basically saw 20 years ago, written by musicians, not trainers, PT’s, kinesiologists.
I then tried “dynamic stretches for musicians” which yielded better results. I still had trouble finding what I needed. I got impatient and just started watching the YouTube videos that came up for this search. Eventually, I was drawn to the following two:
The first video took a very holistic and Alexander technique (I’m being somewhat redundant here) approach. This one really made me realize that I am holding my body in a tense and unnatural position most of the time, especially while playing.
The second one was annoying as hell but the actual stretches are fantastic since they focus on the fingers and how they interact with the arm. This one relied on qigong and yoga methods.
I saw a dramatic improvement in my playing after I started these. I don’t hurt as much. There were some tempo thresholds that I was able to cross and I feel like I wasn’t working nearly as hard. Looking back after a couple of weeks using this routine, I’m no longer quite sure that the latter video is specifically for pre-playing. It kind of straddles the line of dynamic and static stretching. Might have to reach out to someone about this. In the coming week, I’m going to try and leaving it out. Let’s see where this takes me.