We all know Valentine's Day is about showing love and appreciation to the special people in your life, but we think it's also a good time of year to remind you to take care of yourself too… especially if you hope to have a long, healthy career as a drummer.…Recently, long time Artist Tony De Augustine stopped by the Zildjian Factory for a visit. It had been close to 25 years since I saw him, and he hadn’t changed at all….I mean, AT ALL! How did he do that?
We got to talking about the physical demands of touring the world and playing shows, night after night, year after year …and how he's been able to stay healthy and injury free all this time. In that conversation, Tony shared one of his most important tips with me – resetting his body AFTER a performance – that getting in the habit of cooling down after a show was just as important as warming up before the show. Fully committed to this principal, he sought out help from elite athletic trainer, Jim Wharton, and even went so far as to develop a book of stretches specifically for drummers called, “Flexibility for Drummers."
As a gift of “self love” this Valentine’s Day, here are a few of Tony's cool down exercises that target the main muscle groups drummers use while playing. While most drummers do "Warm Up" before a gig, here’s to you "Cooling Down," preventing injuries and becoming an all-around healthier you!
Why Warm Up?
Ideally, we warm up slowly and gently before any performance. This helps to get in touch with our physical posture, our balance, and gain control of the sticks, brushes, or mallets being used. Likewise, warming up helps prepare for the surfaces to be played on, from plastic drum heads to metal cymbals, wood, and the many other variations. Additionally, there is the need to play at different volumes and tempo shifts at a moment's notice, which requires further control.
Having great control over what you are setting out to perform requires that you feel in touch with your mind and body, and that relates to your muscles being able to do what your brain and nervous system tell them to do. We warm up to connect all those pathways. Then we are ready to leave the warm-up phase and move onto the real joy: performing, creating music, reading music, and improvisation.
The Importance of Cooling Down - Four Stretches To Do After the Gig
Just as we warm up to perform, we need to cool down. We need to reset our bodies, and our mind as well. Take a moment to cool down slowly and gently after your gig. Think of it as nurturing yourself and preparing for your next great performance. Just as it helps to walk after running or sprinting, gentle movements can help reset the body, restore the muscles and the connective tissue, and settle to a normal, non-strenuous pace.
Performing a light static stretch can also control soreness by helping to circulate lactic acid that may have accumulated in your muscles during your performance.
As with any exercise program, please be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new workout.
1. WRIST EXTENSION:
MUSCLES STRETCHED: FLEXOR CARPI RADIALIS, FLEXOR CARPI ULNARIS
Start with your hand and forearm extended straight out from the elbow, with your hand open and palm facing the floor. Keeping the elbow locked and straight, extend your hand upward. Gently assist the stretch with your opposite hand for 1 to 2 seconds, then relax to starting position. Repeat this 8 to 10 times, then do the same with the opposite hand. Next, repeat the stretch with your palm facing up.
2. TRAPEZIUS / ROTATOR CUFF:
MUSCLES BEING STRETCHED: TERES MINOR, INFRASPINATUS, LATISSIMUS DORSI, TRAPEZIUS
Stand with your feet apart and knees slightly bent. Rest your right hand on your shoulders, keeping both shoulders easy and relaxed. Place your left hand at the right elbow and, as you slide the right hand toward your spine, gently assist the stretch for 1 to 2 seconds. Relax back to starting position. Do 8 to 10 times, then repeat on other side.
3. ANTERIOR DELTOID:
MUSCLES BEING STRETCHED: ANTERIOR DELTOID, BICEPS BRACHII, PECTORIALIS MAJOR and PECTORIAL MINOR
Stand with your feet apart and knees bent, with your arms completely straight and the palms facing the body. Keeping the shoulders down, slide your arms behind you without bending them. Think of lifting your pinky finger as high as you can for 1 to 2 seconds, then release back to standing position. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
4. TRUNK FLEXION-BENT LEG (BACK):
MUSCLES BEING STRETCHED: ERECTOR SPINAE, SACROSPINALIS
Sit right on top of your sit bones with your back long and your knees drawn up close as is comfortable. (If this position is uncomfortable, see modified version below.) Keeping your shoulders down, relax your chin to your chest and continue to roll forward as if trying to place the top of your head on the floor. To further assist the stretch, you may clasp your hands on your lower legs, ankles or feet and hold for 1 to 2 seconds. Roll back up to starting position keeping your shoulders down and neck relaxed. Repeat 8 to 10 times for a deep lower-back stretch.
If you’ve never thought about cooling down after a gig, spend a couple of extra minutes stretching those muscles that just worked so hard for you. Give them a little extra love before you pack up your kit and start hauling all that heavy hardware back to the car. Your body will thank you!
Tell us about your post show ritual. Do you cool down with stretching after a gig? Join the conversation in the comment section below.