Back Release Mini Series by GéNIA: 3 Minute Shoulder Release
Very often I see musicians who suffer from shoulder pain, but instead of dealing with the issue, they ignore it, hoping that the pain will go away. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Instead the tension in the shoulders keeps building up and, if not dealt with correctly and in a timely manner, could affect many areas of the body: in the arms, which start experiencing tension that prevents musicians from playing freely; in the neck, by creating pain that in turn could lead to heightened blood pressure, ‘tired’ eyes and even double vision; and in the lower back, by creating extra stress in this area, (which supports the entire spine) and therefore destabilises the whole sitting or standing position of the player. These problems are common for all types of musicians: pianists, string players, wind players, percussionists and even singers.
However all these grim side-effects can be avoided if musicians start taking care of their body on a daily basis, treating these exercises like ‘maintenance work’. And knowing that no one has much time these days, I decided to introduce a short Blog ‘Back Release Exercise Mini Series’, that can change the way you feel about you body, open it up, release stress and tension and invigorate!
However, please note, if you are already suffering severely from tension in your upper back and shoulders, I recommend you see a specialist first – osteopath, back specialist, cranio-sacral therapist or just a masseur. If the condition is too acute. we do need external help and it will be a waste of time doing the exercises and could even risk doing damage.
Also it is important to know about any dis-alignments you may have, as some of the exercises may not be appropriate. For example, if you are suffering from a frozen shoulder, please do not do any exercises that work with the shoulder area without the supervision of a specialist, and if you used to suffer from this condition, approach with the caution, do it slowly and always with bent arms. Therefore it is always good to contact a specialist before you try new exercises – whether it is yoga, pilates or the little mini exercises which I introduce in these series.
Here is a simple Shoulder Release exercise, which would be great to do either before or in between your practice. To start, try to keep your hands wide, as it is easier, and you do not have to keep your arms straight; bent is fine, as long as your shoulders are down and in line with the body. This shoulder release exercises also suits anyone who sits at the computer for prolonged periods. It’s one of my favorites, and only takes a few minutes!
BENEFITS: Stretches the spine. Opens the shoulder blades. Warms up the upper-body. Improves circulation. Opens and stretches the front body. Invigorating.
Props: Yoga belt or tea towel
- Sit on a chair or in a kneeling position, take hold of a yoga belt or tea towel, stretch your arms out in front of you slightly more than a shoulder width apart
- On an inward breath, with straight elbows, start to slowly raise the arms until they are in line with the ears
- Try to keep the shoulders down and the chest in, and on an exhale bring the arms down. Repeat 4 times
- Do this one more time, and this time, try to keep your arms raised for 5 seconds or more. For more adventures practitioners, try to take your hands further behind your ears, if you can manage this.
If you are suffering from any medical conditions, and in particular frozen shoulder, neck pain, high blood pressure or any severe back pain, I do not recommend that you do this exercise. If you just feel stiff, you can bend the elbows and take your hands as wide as possible.
Do this exercise before or in between your music practice or prolonged computer sessions. Enjoy!
Photographer: Pamela Troni
Model: Trudi Oliveiro
Photos: © Piano-Yoga Ltd
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