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3 Chair Stretches for Musicians: Improve Posture and Reduce Injuries

As a dedicated musician, you invest considerable time and effort in perfecting your art through practice and performance. However, the repetitive motions and prolonged postures involved in playing an instrument can take a toll on your body and increase the risk of injuries. I have personally experienced injury from playing the cello and had to receive physical therapy to recover. Through this experience, I learned the value of taking care of your body so you can continue doing what you love!

Common Injuries in Playing Music:

A. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs): Musicians often experience RSIs due to continuous, repetitive movements. Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome in pianists and tendinitis in guitarists are common examples.

B. Back and Neck Pain: Poor posture while practicing or performing can lead to chronic back and neck pain. Long hours of sitting or standing can strain the muscles and cause discomfort.

C. Shoulder Injuries: Violinists, cellists, and other string players are prone to shoulder injuries due to the prolonged and sustained use of these muscles.

At Dynamic Music Studios in Coralville, IA, I often lead group classes that specialize in movements and exercises that help reduce injuries and relieve fatigue while making music. Let’s explore three easy chair stretches designed to improve your posture, reduce injury risks, and contribute to your overall well-being as an active musician.

Seated Spinal Twist:

The Seated Spinal Twist is excellent for improving spinal flexibility and reducing tension in the back and shoulders.

How to do it:

  • Sit upright in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.

  • Place your right hand on your left knee and gently twist your upper body to the left.

  • Hold the twist while taking deep breaths, feeling the stretch along your spine.

  • Repeat on the other side by placing your left hand on your right knee and twisting to the right.

Shoulder and Chest Opener:

This stretch helps release tension in the shoulders and chest, promoting better posture and reducing the risk of shoulder injuries.

How to do it:

  • Sit upright in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.

  • Interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten your arms.

  • Lift your arms slightly while squeezing your shoulder blades together.

  • Hold the stretch for a few breaths, feeling the expansion in your chest and the opening of your shoulders.

Neck Stretch:

Relieve neck tension and improve neck flexibility with this simple stretch.

How to do it:

  • Sit upright in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.

  • Drop your right ear towards your right shoulder, feeling the stretch on the left side of your neck.

  • Hold the stretch for a few breaths, then switch to the other side by dropping your left ear towards your left shoulder.

As a musician, taking care of your body is crucial to perform at your best and enjoy your passion for music without injuries. Incorporating these three chair stretches into your daily routine can significantly improve your posture, reduce the risk of injuries, and support your physical well-being throughout your musical journey. Remember to listen to your body, take breaks when needed, and stay mindful of your posture while playing to ensure a harmonious connection between you, your instrument, and your music.

**Photo courtesy of AI on Canva when prompted with orchestra musicians stretching.

Christina Gentzsch is co-owner and cello instructor at Dynamic Music Studios in Coralville, IA.

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