Stretching classics

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Staying in one position for a long time, especially when performing, can lead to pain. To prevent chronic pain, I wish to point out some stretching classics, that are helpful especially to flutists.

As musicians, flutists in particular, we have to support an extra weight and add it to our body’s gravitational center and that might result in an overload leading to rigidity and unfortunately pain.

I’m not a doctor, just a flutist who loves to run, so I might have some helpful stretching exercises here. They help me stay flexible and prevent pain.

Cats are said to be a musicians’ favorite pet. That might be true, definitely for me. But have you ever really thought you could learn from them? You can! They are stretching masters.

Try to imitate them now and then and you will gain not only your cat’s sympathy but also a lot of benefit from preventing stiffness and overload.

 

Stretching masters - cats

Stretching Masters – Cats

Stretching classics for musicians


So let’s have a look at some stretching exercises for musicians that can help prevent pain, especially stretching points for flutists.  Needless to say, that we should try to exercise regularly, especially strengthening our muscles (like swimming).

Running is not bad, especially as counter activity to staying seated all day. But think about more muscles strengthening exercises for your back, like riding a bike or swimming. The later is fantastic also for breathing strength training.

If you like to check out my article about respiratory training click here.

What are the main body points to address with stretching exercises?

As we hold our instruments in once unnatural positions that have become natural to us, we put our wrists under stress, especially if they have to carry weight.

Shoulders are another target that we ought to think about, as they often fall inwards and cause the upper back and neck to experience stress and eventually pain as well.

Another important point is the lower back. Many of us stay seated for hours and tend to slowly curve our back which is causing our lower back to ache.

 

Stretching classics for wrists


Starting from the front part of our body, we will first concentrate on the one part that doesn’t belong to the posterior muscle chain. Static stretching is not always the answer and can even be detrimental, if it is not completed with dynamic stretching exercises that involve movement.

So we will use exercises that can help strengthen the body parts that suffer, and elongate them at the same time.

It is very important to follow up on static stretches, that you hold without movement ( for example counting to 15), you do moving stretches as well. So my personal idea of power stretching for the wrists looks like this:

Hold this position for 15 seconds and then let your arm hang low and wobble your hand freely for another 15 seconds.

Repeat on the other wrist.

Wrist flexor stretchStretching classics Wrist flexor stretch

Hold this position for 15 secondes and then let your arm hang low and wobble your hand freely for another 15 seconds.

Repeat on the other wrist.

Wrist extensor stretch   Stretching classics wrist extensor stretch

Stretching classics for shoulders


Now the worst part for most musicians when it comes to stretching classics are the shoulders. Especially flutists suffer from shoulder pain and can benefit from the following stretching exercises for musicians.

The posterior muscle chain especially the upper part have traction or pulling function during a musicians’ activity so you will need to elongate, that is stretch, your deltoid muscles. This is one of the most beneficial static stretches that a musician can do whatever instrument he or she plays.

Try to hold this position for 20 seconds and change sides.

Deltoid muscle stretch

Stretching classics deltamuscle

Right after this static stretching exercise we should include a dynamic one. So follow the movements in the pendulum exercise below. Change directions after 5 slow circles and try to keep you shoulder relaxed and in a low hanging position as the exercise will have more lasting benefits. After 10 circles change the shoulder side. Do it slowly and breathe deeply.

Pendulum Exercise

Stretching classics pendulum exercise

Now that we have hold our shoulder hanging forward and relieved some stress in the rotator area of our shoulders we can do another static stretch to open up our chest.

Hold both sides for 20 seconds. PS: You don’t have to do it in your underwear…

Stretching classics shoulder open

Let us do some more dynamic stretching exercises for the upper back and shoulders before we move on to the lower part. Open and close your shoulders in a forward – backward movement like shown in the image below and repeat this 10 times.

Stretching classics shoulders forward

If you have the possibility to lie down, you can involve your shoulder blades in this exercise of forward and backward movement.

Stretching classics shoulder blades

Let us hope that the ladies in their underwear aren’t catching a cold while showing us a last static exercise to stretch all of our body, especially the sides. It looks a little like what cats sometimes do.

So it must be helpful!

Stretchting classics feline way

Stretching exercises for the lower back


Sitting down especially has an impact on our lower back. This is because when we sit we pull our legs to our body using the hip flexors. Keeping this position for a long time will lead to need stretch the hip flexors.

  • A useful exercise is the following: Stand on one single leg and keep it straight. Lift you other knee until it makes a 90° angle to your standing leg. Stay in this position counting to 10. Then relax for 1 minute and do it again. Repeat this also for the other leg. This doesn’t only help the hip flexors but also strengthens the standing leg.
  • Another useful exercise implies lying down: While you lie straight, even on a table or the ground pull one leg to your chest and let the other one hang or lie comfortably. Stay in this position counting to 10. Then relax and change sides. Repeat this exercise three times.
  • The last one is another static one: Pull both knees to your chest while lying down and enjoy the stretching feeling it gives to your lower back.

Unlock your hipflexors to prevent pain and ease life—-> here.

 

Stretching classics for flutists


Concerning stretching for flutists, do the wrist and shoulder stretches every where and when ever you can.

Try to practice standing and not sitting so your hips and lower back will not experience too much flexion and traction. Standing is very helpful for maintaining the lower back flexible.

If you do have to be in rehearsals where you sit for hours, remember to do the lower back exercises as well.

Now you know how to prevent pain and aches, act on it!

Eat well and sleep well, stretch, look at any cat you can find and have a lot of fun!!!

These stretching exercises are classics and I listed them to help you out and prevent pain. Also have a look at my article on sleep loss and its impact on performance clicking here.

If you do experience aches and pain these exercises won’t help and can even deteriorate your situation, you need to search a doctor’s advise.

This article is to prevent stiffness and pain.
If you wish to train your muscles specifically or look for orthopedic help you have to turn to a professional
trainer or doctor. I’m neither of both.

I’m just a flutist trying to stay healthy and help you do the same!

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comment section below and I will be more than happy to answer!

Happy flute life,

Janie

founder of

3 rules to play together in a music group

 

topflute.com

myflutelife.com

 

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12 Replies to “Stretching classics”

  1. What an excellent list of stretching exercises! As a pharmacist I spend a lot of my working day standing on my feet and often not moving very far so as the day goes on I often find myself getting a bit stiff, particularly in the lower legs and lower back area.
    I’ll definitely be trying out some of your lower back stretches – I just need to find somewhere that the customers won’t see me!

    1. Thanks a lot David, for stopping by and leaving a comment on Stretching classics! Let me know if those lower back exercises can help you with your stiffness. I hope they will. Stay tuned and flexible,
      Janie

  2. Thank you for sharing a fantastic list of stretching exercises, I really enjoyed reading your article.

    I have weak wrists and as I work on pc for anything up to 10-11 hours per day I get lower back pain from all the sitting in bad posture.

    I try to keep my back straight but when I am focussed on my work I forget about my back until I get the pain.

    I will make the effort and do the exercises you have shared. To start with do you think 20 per minutes per day is enough for me to feel the positive effects?

    1. Thank you for reading Stretching classics! I hope it relieves your stiffness and helps you get a break from sitting in front of the computer.
      20 min is more than enough to feel positive benefits. You will feel them right away and I hope this will make you continue doing them.
      All the best,
      Janie

  3. As a pianist who practices daily for hours, I would have to say that I wish my teacher had taught me about these stretching years ago when I first started… It really helps and now I am trying to cure my shoulder pain caused by long hours of practice… I will do the stretches daily, appreciate your sharing!

    1. Hi Hans, thank you for joining us here. I’m so sorry to hear about your shoulder pain. Unfortunately there still is not enough attention to stretching classics. But if you are in pain you should seek for help from a doctor. The exercises are soft, but shouldn’t be done in pain. You might even worsen your aches. So please cure your shoulder pain and do the exercises only after to prevent future pain.
      Thank you for sharing,
      Hope you get better soon!
      Janie

  4. It’s funny because 2 of my daughter’s played the flute and not once did I ever ask them if they were tired or did their bodies hurt. I guess since playing the flute is a stationary position no one really looks at the wear and tear standing in the same position for long periods of time and do to a person. Reading this post has given me better insight on what a flute player actually goes through. Also I have developed respect and empathy for their profession.

    1. Thank you for reading Stretching classics and commenting! I’m thrilled 2 daughters of you played the flute and hope that they still do or at least listen to beautiful flute music. You are completely right, no one really thinks about it being stressfull on your body a prolunged unnatural position with added weight. I guess your girls would have complained if they experienced any pain or exhaustment! But I guess even for little ones, and in the beginning, when you study only a few minutes, it can be helpful and maybe fun to do some exercises and stretching.
      After all, playing the flute is quite athletic!
      Thanks for coming by,
      Appreciate it,
      Janie

  5. Great Post! Stretching is one of the best exercises for anyone. I learned stretching exercises at the YMCA years ago and still do some of them today. Although I don’t
    play the flute, I love and appreciate flute music.

    1. Hi there, thanks for joining in! I appreciate that you read my Stretching classics article and took the time to comment on it. So happy you liked my post. Yeah, stretching is good for everyone and can prevent a lot of chronic pain. So whatever we do we should look for the right workout. Just make sure to combine static and dynamic stretching exercises, so you wont’ in some cases worsen the situation.
      Great to share with us that you like flute music, I do hope you get a chance to listen to good music.
      Thanks for coming by and all the best!
      Janie

  6. Hi Janie,
    Some helpful tips on exercises there. Stretching is one of the best exercises out there. Keeping your body flexible is the key for so many professions and pasttimes. Stretching before a game of golf combined with quiet mental focus, will give you better control of your shots, as you go from set up to delivering power on a drive, and having the flexibility to control the power on ground strokes and putts.
    A good exercise for breathing is swimming. It boosts your lung capacity and tightens your stomach muscles.
    Actually any activity involving water is good. One of my favourites was seeing how many laps of a swimming pool I could do under water. I could never quite make 3 laps of an olympic sized pool. before I had to come up for a breath.
    I would call swimming or water activities stretching exercises for the internal organs.

    Regards,
    Michael.

    1. Very interesting comment, thank you so much for the valuable information. You are right, water sports and gymnastics are truly the best. All the benefit without the weight! I should write another post about it as it is crucial for flutists because of the training of the respiratory system. I wouldn’t know if I can keep up with you, Michael! I have never tried, but I’m not sure I could even do one lap without having to take a breath. I will have to train and swim faster, I guess. You seem pretty trained!
      Thank you also for highlighting the importance of remaining flexible.
      This is the best pain and ache prevention,
      Stay well and flexible,
      Janie

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