If you've been playing the violin for any length of time, chances are you've experienced tension and muscle soreness on some level. Even the most relaxed of us can still feel muscle fatigue and tightness after extended periods of holding the same position. Today, I'm here to share my top three stretches for alleviating stiffness and soreness from playing your violin, plus a bonus stretch at the end!
These exercises can be done before you practice, mid-practice session, or after playing/practicing. It's all up to you, and what you feel your body needs. I always recommend taking breaks during your practice sessions, and stretching can be a great way to quickly relieve some tension and restore focus during those breaks. Let's get into these stretches!
This one is great for stretching out those smaller muscles we are always using within the hands, fingers, and inner wrists. Start by placing your hands in a prayer pose, then face your fingertips toward you and slowly press your palms forward and away from you through the fingertips. Hold for ten seconds.
The neck stretch is helpful for relieving that persistent neck and shoulder tension that is oh-so-common among violinists. Simply tilt your head as far as it will go to one side, and lightly place your hand on top of your head for a deeper stretch. Don't force anything here - just do what feels good. Try to keep your shoulders level and relaxed as you do this. Hold for ten seconds on each side, or as long as you would like.
Eagle Arm Stretch
For a bit of a challenge, the eagle arms - a pose you may be familiar with if you've ever taken a yoga class. This stretch provides great relief for the deltoids, rotator cuffs, trapezius, and also opens the shoulders. Start by crossing your arms at the elbows in front of you, right over left, then raise your hands up and continue wrapping your bottom arm around your top arm, until you are able to clasp your hands. If you are not able to make it all the way, just go as far as you are able. You will still get the benefits of this stretch. Hold for ten seconds, and slowly move your arms up and down for a dynamic stretch. Switch arms, and repeat.
BONUS: Doorway Stretch
I had to include this one because it is a stretch that has helped me so much in recent years. As violinists, we often have our arms in front of us, pulling our shoulders forward and even downward. The doorway stretch helps to open up the shoulders from the front, and stretch out the pectoralis muscles. To achieve this, stand in front of a door frame, and hold up both of your arms, each bended ninety degrees at the elbow (palms facing outward) like a goal post. Place your hands on the door at the same level, and take a step forward. Lean into the stretch as your body allows, and feel your muscles opening up and the tension releasing.
I hope you find major tension relief from these stretches, and that you are able to incorporate them into your regular routine. Happy (relaxed) practicing!
For a demonstration of the stretches in a guided format, check out the video below!