Stretches for Drummers

Posted by Dr. Podesta on March 17, 2011 with 4,800 Comments

The value of a proper warm-up routine prior to athletic competition or practice has been recognized as an optimal method of preventing injury during athletic activity. Musicians, particularly drummers, must also appropriately prepare to perform as well. Pre-participation warm-up, including stretching and flexibility exercises, is a common practice for athletes; however, few musicians realize the importance of a proper warm-up and stretching prior to a rehearsal or performance. Whether you are preparing for an athletic competition, or a five-night-long gig, your performance will be enhanced by routinely performing a series of flexibility and stretching exercises. If stretching is neglected, there will be a much greater risk of sustaining injury due to decreased range of motion.

Warm-Up
Preparing to stretch is of utmost importance. Warming up prior to stretching is often ignored or overlooked. Unfortunately, in sports, as well as in music, especially at the lower levels of performance or when practice time is limited, the methods by which we warm-up may not be adequate in preparing the muscles required to participate in their activity. This practice can lead to injury including muscle strains and tears. Warm-up to drum, do not drum to warm-up!

Warming up helps to raise the deep muscle and connective tissue temperature, allowing for greater flexibility. The increased flexibility reduces the risk of muscle strain or tears, and ligament sprains, helping to prevent post-exercise muscle soreness. The primary objective of warming up is to prepare our tendons, ligaments and muscles for the explosive forces that are applied to these tissues during strenuous activity. The activity chosen or utilized for a warm-up should begin slowly, be continuous and progress gradually over 10 to 15 minutes. Some commonly used methods of warm-up include: jogging, biking or walking.

Stretching and Flexibility

Stretching should not be utilized as a replacement for a proper warm-up and should only occur once a proper warm-up has been achieved.

There are four basic stretching techniques, static stretching, dynamic or ballistic stretching, slow movement stretching and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching.

Static stretching is the most common stretching technique and the primary method of stretching. It can be performed alone and consists of a voluntary passive elongation of a specific muscle. In this form of stretching the muscle is slowly and gently stretched to the point of tension, which will cause a slight feeling of discomfort, but not pain in the muscle. The stretch should be held for 10 to 15 seconds and then repeated on the opposite side of the body.

Helpful Hints for Stretching

1)   Warm up before you begin to stretch with some type of cardiovascular exercise (jogging, walking, cycling, etc.) for about 5 minutes to generate a sweat. This increases blood flow and warms muscles so they can be stretched effectively.

2)   Less flexible areas may require more frequent or longer stretching time.

3)   Stretch the entire body.

4)   Hold and maintain the stretch for 10-15 seconds.

5)   Relax throughout the stretch.

6)   Do not bounce.

7)   Repeat each stretch 2-3 times.

Several common stretches used for drumming have been demonstrated below. These stretches have been designed to stretch the upper body, trunk, and lower body:

Upper Body and Chest Stretches:

Fig. 1: Trunk Twist

With arms at chest level, slowly twist the trunk from right to left while keeping the feet on the ground with toes pointing forward. This is held for 5-10 second.

Fig. 2: Upward Hang Interlock

In a standing position with both hands overhead, and with the hands interlocked, bend first to the right and then to the left while looking straight ahead, holding the position for 5-10 seconds.

Fig. 3: Front Hand Interlock

Standing upright, hands are interlocked, bend forward, keeping knees straight and hold position for 5-10 seconds.

Fig. 4: Arm Rotation (forward & backwards)

Standing upright, arms are elevated to the side with elbows straight and the arms rotate forward for 10 revolutions in a circular pattern, then backward for 10 revolutions in a circular pattern.

Fig. 5: Arm Swings (In & Out)

Standing upright, with arms elevated to the side, at chest height, cross arms across the chest for 8-10 repetitions.

Fig. 6: Arm Swings (Up & down)

Standing upright, arms begin at the side and are elevated overhead with thumbs pointing up alternating right and left arms 8-10 repetitions.

Fig. 7: Arm Across Chest (right & left)

Hold your left arm just above the elbow with you right hand. Gently pull your left elbow toward your opposite shoulder as you look over your left shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds the repeat on the right side.

Fig. 8: Forearm Palm Up (right & left)

The right arm is straight with the palm up and the elbow straight. The left hand pulls the fingertips and wrist backward and hold the position for 8-10 seconds. Then repeat on the right side.

Fig. 9: Forearm Palm Down (right & left)

The right arm is straight with the palm down and the elbow straight. The left hand pulls the fingertips and wrist downward and holds the position for 8-10 seconds. Then repeat on the right side.

Fig. 10: Forearm Rotation In (right & Left)

The right arm is straight with the palm down and the elbow straight. The left hand twists the forearm inward holding the position for 8-10 seconds. Then repeat on the right side.

Fig. 11: Forearm Rotation Out (right & Left)

The right arm is straight with the palm down and the elbow straight. The left hand twists the forearm outward holding the position for 8-10 seconds. Then repeat on the right side.

Fig. 12: Shoulder Shrugs

Raise the top of the shoulders toward your ears until you feel a slight tension in your neck and shoulders. Hold this position for 10 seconds.

Fig. 13: Neck Stretch

To stretch the left side of the neck and the top of the shoulder, lean your head to the right side. Your arms are behind your back and you pull your left arm with your right left down and across your body. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat for the right side of the neck.

Lower Body and Trunk

Fig. 1: Groin (right & left)

To stretch the right groin bend left knee and straighten the right knee out to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat on the left side.

Fig 2a, 2b: Standing Feet Spread Hamstring Stretch (left, middle, right)

Standing upright spread legs comfortably apart. Twist to the right and reach for the right ankle, hold for 10 seconds. Then reach between both legs and hold, and then repeat the stretch toward the left side.

Fig. 3: Hip Flexor (right & left)

To stretch the left hip flexor kneel on the left knee, move the right foot forward until the left knee is at about 90 degrees and the knee is directly above the right foot. Lean forward over the right ankle and hold for 10 seconds then repeat this on the right.

Fig. 4: Quadriceps Stretch (right & left)

Sitting with the left leg straight on the ground and with the right knee bent at the knee, lean backward and hold for 10 seconds to feel the stretch in your right quadricep. Repeat this with the left knee bent.

Fig. 5a, 5b, 5c: Seated Feet Spread Hamstring Stretch (right, middle & left)

From a seated position straighten both legs and spread legs apart. Bend forward and reach out with hands grasping the right ankle. Hold for 10 seconds. Change positions to reach straight-ahead and then to the left side, holding each for 10 seconds.

Fig. 6: Seated Feet Together Toe Touch

With both knees flat on the ground, reach forward grasp toes and maintain the position for 10 seconds.

Fig. 7: Butterfly

Put the soles of your feet together with your heels a comfortable distance from your groin. Place your hands around your feet and slowly pull yourself forward until you feel an easy stretch in the groin.

Fig. 8: Spinal Twist (right & left)

In a seated position, straighten the left leg on the floor. Cross the right leg over the left leg. With your left elbow, push the outside of the right knee inward, while twisting your trunk to the right. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.

Fig. 9: Hip Cradle (right & left)

Lying on your back, place the right ankle just above the left knee, pull the left knee to the chest with both hands and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.

Fig. 10:Knee to Chest Crossover Combination (right & left)

Lying on your back, pull your right leg to the chest with the knee bent and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the left side.

Fig. 11: Straighten Leg (right & left)

Lying on your back, pull your right leg toward the chest with the knee straight and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the left side.

Fig. 12: Pull Leg Over (right & left)

Lying on your back, pull your right leg toward the chest with the knee straight and then rotate your right leg to the left, keeping your shoulders on the floor, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the left side.

Fig. 13: Calf Stretch (right & left)

To stretch the left calf, put both hands on the floor. Place the right foot over the left ankle while keeping the left knee straight and the left heel on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat this on the right calf.

Cooling Down

An active cool down after a performance or practice session is recommended. This can be accomplished by jogging for 30 to 60 seconds followed by walking for 3 to 5 minutes. This should be sufficient for body functions to return to pre-exertional levels. A light static stretch is advised after a performance or rehearsal to help circulate lactic acid accumulations in muscles, which will help prevent muscle soreness.

Once the above stretching and flexibility program has been completed, you should be prepared to begin drum specific warm up exercises for you hands and feet.

Practicing these simple stretches before and after a rehearsal or gig can assure many happy days of drumming and performing to come.

Warning: If you have had any recent surgery, muscle or joint problems, please consult your personal health care professional prior to starting a stretching or exercise program.

Filed Under: Articles, Drum Magazine

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