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WARMUP STRETCHES

compiled by Steve Carter

Start all exercises standing with feet spread slightly, arms hanging at sides.

1. Upper arms

Raise arms slowly out and up over head; touch palms together. Hold 5 seconds, lower arms out and down slowly.

Raise both hands in front of you at chest level, with palms touching. Spread arms out and back, then down, slowly.

2. Shoulders

Roll shoulders up and around in large circles, forward, then backward.

3. Forearms

Raise arms in front of you at waist level, parallel to floor. With hands rolled in a loose fist, rotate hands in small circles, keeping the forearm parallel to the floor. Allow the forearm to move, but not the arm from the elbow up. Rotate in one direction about ten times, then in the other direction.

Hold hands with palms facing down. Keeping forearms parallel with floor, raise hands until they form nearly a right angle with forearm. Hold fifteen seconds. Lower hands to level of forearm. Make a fist and bend wrist down until you feel a slight pulling in forearm. Hold fifteen seconds. Relax.

4. Hands

Hold hands with palms up. Gently make a fist; hold five seconds. Open hand fully, stretching palms up, fingers and thumbs down (tips of fingers extending down toward the floor); hold five seconds. Repeat. Curl just the tips of the fingers in until they almost touch the palm at the base of the fingers; hold five seconds. Uncurl fingers and relax hand.

Hold hands with palms facing down, fingers together. Gently extend one finger at a time, separating it from the others (thumb also); hold five seconds. Gently press fingers and thumb inward (the opposite of stretching); hold five seconds. Let hands hang down at side; relax.

Stuck-in-the-Chair Stretches

These stretches can be done while sitting at the piano, synth, computer keyboard, at the recording console, or in front of the music stand. They help realign a slouching spine and help relieve muscle tension. Try doing one every half hour.

1. The Turtle (Neck Retraction) - for the Cervical Curve (Neck). To realign the cervical curve, slide the chin straight forward, hold, then slide it straight back (keeping the head and ears level). Hold 10 seconds. Youíll know if youíre doing this exercise correctly if you end up with at least one double chin!

2. The Press (Elbow Press) - for the Thoracic Curve (Mid-Back). To help realign the spine and release tension in the middle back, bring the elbows out to the side at chest height. Keeping the chin level, press the elbows gently around and back as far as possible, hold 10 seconds, then release. Youíll know you are doing this correctly if your shoulder blades come close together.

3. The Reverse (Back Arch) - for the Lumbar Curve (Lower Back). To reverse a slouch and relieve pressure in lower back, stand up and press both palms onto the lower back for support, then gently lift the torso up and back, bending the upper and lower back backward. Donít overarch! Hold 10 seconds, relax.

4. The Wrist Stretch - for the Lower Wrist and Forearm. To stretch tight forearms, fully extend the right arm at chest level while gently extending the fingers back toward the shoulder. Hold 10 seconds, then repeat with the other arm.

5. The Three-Quarter Neck Rotation - for the Neck/Upper Shoulders. Most people rotate the neck to relieve tension, but the secret for effectiveness is to rotate very slowly in a stretch rotation, taking 16 counts to complete. Never drop the head back on the cervical vertebrae when rotating. Instead, lift the head and rotate straight across the plane of the shoulders to the center.