A couple months ago, I was thrilled to share a short little yoga sequence video featuring a wonderful flute player, yogi, and friend, Karen Moratz. I had so much fun that I wanted to continue along this same vein with what has become a huge interest of mine: wellness geared towards flute players. I always tell people that flute is not a very ergonomically-friendly instrument–but it IS the most beautiful and the closest to the human voice, so what do we do? We adapt, and we take care of our bodies. Shown below are some easy stretches to lengthen and soothe the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands.
PLEASE NOTE: These pictures and the content therein are not a substitute for medical advice. If you are having ongoing pain, I highly recommend that you see a physical therapist or a sports medicine doctor.
1. Gentle neck and shoulder stretch. Slowly drop your head to one side and gently pull your shoulder away from the neck. You can place your hand on the side of your head for an extra stretch. This opens up the side muscles of the neck and relaxes the shoulders.
2. Wrist and hand stretches. Stretch one arm out in front of you, and use your other hand to gently pull your fingers towards your body, first with your fingers pointing up, then down. This releases any tension and tightness in the wrist and opens up the small muscles of the hands.
3. Arm stretches. These two stretches don’t look like much, but they can actually be a very intense stretch of your medial (left) and radial (right) nerves. Many of us that sit at a desk all day AND play the flute can get a HUGE amount of relief from these stretches. Take one arm out to the side as pictured, and first have your palm facing away from you, as pictured at left. Flex your wrist (think putting your hand up to say “STOP”). Drop your neck to the opposite side. You may feel some intense sensations just from doing this. For a bit more of a stretch, gently and slowly start to bob your head over to the side. Next, flip your wrist over so your palm is facing up (as pictured on the right). Repeat the same movements.
4. Eagle arms. Place one arm at a right angle in front of your face, then hook the other arm underneath it. If possible, bind your upper arms and bring your palms to touch. This is NOT a requirement for the stretch to be effective. You should feel a nice stretch in the backs of your shoulders. To deepen the stretch, gently raise your arms straight upwards a bit.
5. Across the body arm stretch. Pull one arm across the body and hook into a right angle with your opposite arm. Gently pull the shoulder open.