Stretching and Warming Up the Body

This routine (now with video supplement) is designed to prepare the body by stretching and relaxing before actually beginning to play. Failure to properly warm and relax the body may cause unwanted stress and pain, even permanent damage.

The first thing we want to do is loosen and relax the hands. This is very important! Just as an athlete stretches and warms the body before attempting to execute a task, so must the drummer & percussionist. Playing drums is the most physically instrument in the world, and great care must be taken to prepare the body for the upcoming exercises. You can lay your sticks down, you won't need them for awhile.

Allow your hands and arms to hang down at your side, totally relaxed. Raise your forearms so that your hands are now in front of you at chest height. Begin to shake the hands by rotating the forearm (the radius bone rotating around the ulna bone in your forearm). Gradually increase your speed (as if you were shaking water off your hands) while keeping the hands in a fully relaxed state. Do this for 30 seconds. Next, shake the hands back and forth, hinging at the wrist (like knocking on a door), gradually increasing speed, keeping the hands totally relaxed. Do this for 30 seconds. Allow your hands & arms to hang back down at your side. If you have done everything correctly, you should feel a "tingling" sensation which is the blood moving through your hands. Now that the hands are warm and loose, we are ready to stretch.

Your fingers have tendons that run up the front and back of the hand (flexors & extensors) which allow you to open and close your hand. To assist in relaxing these tendons and their muscles, we want to stretch them out. Begin with your index finger on your right hand by gently bending it backwards, very slowly, very carefully. You will feel a slight "burning" sensation in the palm of your hand. Hold the finger back for 15-30 seconds then release. Now perform the same stretching exercise with the middle finger, ring finger, little finger and thumb, each individually. Once this is complete, repeat the exercise by bending the fingers & thumb in the opposite direction. You'll feel a slight burn on the back of the hand. Be careful and go slow! We are not trying to "pop" the knuckles, merely stretch the tendons & muscles in the hands.

Repeat the above in the left hand, being careful to go slow and not hurt yourself. If you feel pain (more than a slight burning from the stretching) STOP!!!

You may want to shake and loosen your hands again. We are trying to relax and loosen the hands (fingers, wrists & arms), while keeping them warm in the process. Be careful ... don't hurt yourself. See if you can apply this to your feet as well. It's a bit more of a challenge, but it's all part of the human machine.

Now you are ready to play!