It's far too easy to get swept up into the overworked, robot-like stress mode that is far too prevalent in our society today. You can spend hours, years and decades practicing, feeling seemingly invincible, only to find that it has taken a toll on your body. How is this manageable and perhaps even preventable? Let's dive in.
First things first, before moving comes into play, we must discuss the art of staying still. Posture is a massively important element to our daily lives that get overlooked until its too late. Have you ever noticed that after you pull an all nighter or two, in your bed with a laptop in one hand and a pillow on the other, only to notice that you’ve got a crick in your neck for weeks on end later on? Posture is an easy problem to have as there is little to no immediate pain but this is where it will get you! You must develop a method for appropriate and unforced posture while practicing and performing. Use a mirror to watch and adjust your habits. Videoing yourself is another alternative method if a mirror is not mobile or readily available.
A topic that has much debate around it is that of fitness, exercise, diet and healthy lifestyle habits. One thing that seems to be equally agreed upon is that of your water intake and the necessity for simple, stress free exercise such as swimming or walking. In a similar vein, stretching seems to be something that everybody can agree upon.
If you’d really like to take it up a notch, we suggest doing your research and testing it out before purchasing, but the world of inversion tables seem to be quite intriguing. “In theory, inversion therapy can improve the space between your spinal discs and relieve pressure. Activities such as sitting, running, and bending can put pressure on these discs. The pressure increases the risk for back pain, a collapsed vertebra, and other complications.”
Another crucial preventive measure is the art of stretching. This is often overlooked as well because it can seem so unnecessary until its too late - your cramped up and regretting not putting that extra effort in when you were too excited to just grab your guitar and go! “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way.” Two of our favorite stretches include the side to side neck stretch, where you slowly lower each ear to its coinciding shoulder. Our second favorite is the wrist and forearm stretch, where you “sit or stand with your forearms facing upwards, place your palms under the desk and gently push upwards, work with the tension to identify sore points, and repeat as necessary. This is fabulous for most musicians who work with their hands, and even those who don’t, as we all overuse our fingers with our incessant typing and texting in the modern world.
If you aren’t too keen on gathering your own routine, or you’re worried that you aren’t doing your techniques properly, consider attending a yoga class. The instructor will adjust your posture, positions and help you learn how your body should feel when it is aligned.
Let us not forget that equally as important to motion for musicians is the lack thereof. It’s incredibly important to find a safe space and uninterrupted time where your body and brain can rest. Spend the day in the sun, soaking up all of its regenerative energy. Allow yourself days where your alarm is unset, letting your body reset its clock and sleep in. if you aren't the type to be able to let go, try to add a few elements like dark-out shades and noise machines to ensure a restful sleep. You absolutely must do this or else you’ll find yourself completely burn out and then you won’t be any good for anybody, especially yourself!