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Sweat First Play Later - Warm Ups for Guitarists & Other Instrumentalists

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Check back here for a future Video Warm Up Coming Soon!

Why Warm Up?

Warm-ups prepare us to perform at our best while minimizing risk of damage to our muscles, ligaments and nerves.

Warm-ups may seem time consuming, but they’re far less time consuming than injury!

Remind yourself to breathe deeply and release excess tension often throughout warm-ups and throughout practice sessions.

This is especially important if you are playing for long periods of time, doing more intense activities like bar chords, awkward patterns, or intense bends and leads.

As I am primarily a guitarist, these were developed with guitarists in mind, but would be helpful and appropriate for those who play other instruments, and almost anyone who uses their hands and wrists a lot throughout the day.

Listen to your body

DISCLAIMER! As always, I am not a medical professional! Go slow and be careful and gentle with yourself.

Everyone has different causes of tension, pain, or injury and this may or may not be helpful for you. Go slow and adjust as you see fit.

If a particular movement feels wrong to you, trust your body and move on or substitute a more comfortable movement.

SeeK Help

If you have a lingering injury, nerve pain or chronic pain that doesn't go away PLEASE go to your doctor, physiotherapist, or acupuncturist! Treat your body with love and respect and take it to a professional if something is not right!

Pre-Playing Warm-Up:

Do each step in order to the best of your ability and comfort.

1. Increase blood flow to the hands/upper body

  1. Light cardio (like jumping jacks, running in place, jogging, dancing). Turn on some music and have some fun!

  2. Heat (water bottles, heated blankets etc.)

  3. Arm-swings

  4. Shoulder rolls

  5. Shaking the hands

2. Self-massage

  1. Grab your muscles gently, starting from neck down to the hands, repeat on both sides. Then move on to the ribs, chest, shoulders and upper back as well.

  2. Go back to areas of specific pain or tension. Gently push on and pull/stretch sore and stiff areas (trigger points) to help release them and get blood flowing through them

3. Strengthening Exercises for Upper Body

Gets these muscles activated, strong, and warm to reduce risk of injury to wrists and hands. Start with bigger central muscles and work your way to smaller, periphery muscles.

  1. Work bigger areas such as Biceps, Triceps, Back, Chest. Suggestions: pushups, rows, triceps dips, shoulder flexion, curls, etc.

  2. Work smaller areas like Forearms and Wrists. Suggestions: Forearm pronation and supination, wrist curls.

4. Stretch

Do stretches from bigger central muscles and work your way to smaller, periphery muscles:

  1. Side to side stretch

  2. Shoulders

  3. Triceps

  4. Neck

  5. Forearms

  6. Hands

In Conclusion

Now you should be warm and loose and ready to rock!

Again, this is not medical advice! Go slow and be careful and gentle with yourself.

What other exercises do you do to warm up and stay strong? Feel free to comment below:

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