Remembering to warm up or stretch before drumming has always been a struggle for me. As I’ve grown older, I realize the need to protect my body against injury. Even gentle and quiet drumming can cause all kinds of repetitive strain injuries, and ultimately hamper our ability to lead worship with our church. Also, it’s just good stewardship to take care of our bodies!
I’d like to share a simple stretch with you in this article. This is a stretch that I try to do every time I play drums, and is quick, effective, and doesn’t require any special equipment. But, please keep this mind: I’m not a medical professional. You should always seek the advice of a qualified professional to find a stretching routine that will work for you!
Before I share the stretch, here are a couple of things to avoid in any stretching routine:
Avoid Violent Movements
Stretching is intended to “loosen” up our muscles and other essential parts of our bodies. The process of stretching should always be slow and gentle. Hurrying the process is a surefire way to injure ourselves! Many times, it can be tempting to hurry-up the process of stretching by doing things like gripping a pair of sticks in the middle and quickly rotating our wrists quickly back and forth.
This can put a lot of strain on our wrists, forearms, hands, elbows… virtually every part of the upper body! I personally know 2 drummers who have seriously injured themselves like this. It’s best to avoid sharp, violent movements when stretching.
Avoid Using Outside Objects
Another way that many drummers injure themselves is by using outside objects like walls, drum sticks, and even other people. Early on I was taught that the easiest way to avoid injury during stretching is to only use our own bodies in the process- and even then, to avoid doing things like using one hand to pull or push on other parts of the body.
For example, we shouldn’t push our hands against a wall with our wrists flexed. It is extremely easy to over-exert when we use outside objects. The same is true for doing things like using our left hand to pull on our right elbow towards our body.
I know I might be overdoing it with playing it safe- but when it comes to physical fitness, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
OK. So now that we’ve covered a few safety tips, let’s go over the stretch. Here are the steps:
- Stand upright with your arms outstretched to either side, with your palms facing downward.
- Bend your wrists up so that your palms are facing outward.
Imagine that there is a wall on either side of you, and you are using your palms to push out against them. Use your entire arm to push out away from your body, remembering to keep your palms as perpendicular to the floor as possible. Do this for 10-20 seconds.
- Keeping your arms extended, relax your wrists and move immediately to bending your wrists downward.
- Pretend that you are trying to touch your elbow with your fingers (while keeping your arms outstretched). Slowly relax and then flex your wrists and fingers downward and inward toward your elbow. Do this for 10-20 seconds.
- Go back to step 2 and repeat this process five or six more times.
This routine is very effective for me to prepare my upper body for drumming. An added bonus is that I look kind of silly when I do it, which gives the others in the worship band an opportunity to laugh with me, or even join in! Incidentally, this is a stretch that can benefit virtually all musicians (well, as long as the instrument requires the use of your hands!)
Again, I know this may not be the right stretch for everyone- but I do believe that stretching is always essential before playing drums. So, even if you can’t implement the stretch covered in this article, find a stretch that you can use! Let’s take care of the body we’ve been given, and remain faithful stewards of the abilities and gifts we’ve been given!