Essential Secrets 49: Stretch Out Before You Work Out
Stretch Out Before You Work Out
Bassists as Athletes
Physical comfort when playing your instrument is crucial. And, your actions before and after you play can be just as important. Too often, bassists just pick up their instrument, play something really difficult, and then walk away with no regard to the demands they place on their bodies.
You may not regard your bass playing as an athletic endeavor. After all, your heartbeat generally won’t rise to its target exercise rate, and you may not sweat while you play. But, your muscles, joints, and spine are all being taxed. Make sure your body is ready for this physical demand before you start playing music.
Like all good athletes, bass players should stretch out before practicing or playing. It’s a great idea to stretch afterwards also. You don't need to do 30 minutes of yoga or Tai Chi. You don’t have time for that! Just do some quick, basic stretches of your neck, back, arms, and hands. A minute of stretching now could save you from injury later.
Many bass players develop tightness or pain in specific areas. If this is the case for you, focus your stretching on that area and related areas in your body. For instance, if your hands tighten up while you play, stretch not only your hands, but also your wrists, arms, and shoulders. Feeling the effects of wearing a guitar strap? Make sure you stretch your shoulders, neck, and back.
There are other methods that help both musicians and athletes improve their performance. In addition to stretching, for instance, it can be useful to apply heat or ice to painful or tight muscles. Massage, Alexander Technique, Pilates, and Feldenkrais are also helpful for some bass players.
If you think of yourself as an athlete, you will always prepare yourself for practicing and performing. Stretching just might keep you healthy. Then, you will be able to enjoy playing your bass for a lifetime.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET