As musicians, we are keenly aware of the effort we exert in order to play our instruments, but, in many cases, until we face injury we do very little to look after our bodies.

We have all known that feeling of fatigue in our muscles, been accustomed to a familiar back pain, or at the very least experienced the proud ownership of a neck or fingers that crack like a glow stick in the morning.

It will come as no surprise that, whilst these side effects may be typical in a musician’s life, these are not symptoms of a normal functioning human body.

Small and repetitive movements require a lot of effort from our muscles and these muscles rely on a steady blood flow to perform safely.

In order to use these muscles safely, we must activate, engage and stretch these muscles as part of our daily practice regimen.

Here are 7 BAPAM approved exercises to get your blood flowing!

Repeat the following exercises each 5 times through. STOP if you feel any pain. If you are hyper-mobile, seek advice from a specialist before engaging in any muscle strengthening program.

1. Head Turns

  • Begin with your head facing forwards.
  • Move your head gently so that your chin moves towards your right shoulder.
  • Keep your head moving horizontally and do not let the head drop backwards or forwards.
  • When you have reached your limit, stop and return your head so that you are facing forwards again.
  • Repeat by turning to your left, stopping at your limit, and then returning to face forwards

neck stretch

2. Head Drops

  • Begin with your head in a neutral position facing forwards and your shoulders relaxed.
  • Drop your head gently so that your chin moves towards your chest. Move vertically.
  • When you have reached your limit, return your head to your neutral position, facing forwards.
Head twist

3. Shoulder Raises

  • Begin with your head facing forwards, your shoulders relaxed and your feet a hip width apart.
  • Without moving your head, raise your shoulders as if moving towards your ears
  • Take care not to clench your jaw.
  • Hold your raised shoulder position for a count of 3, then slowly release your shoulders back down to their original position.
  • Repeat the same process moving forwards and backwards with the shoulders.

shoulder raises

4. Side Bends

  • Reach your arms with equal power towards the sky
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and in a neutral position, grasp your right forearm with your left hand.
  • Tilt to the left side to feel a stretch along the right side of your torso.
  • Return to the centre, release your hands and stretch upwards
  • Grasp your left forearm with your right hand
  • Tilt to your right side to feel a stretch along the left side of your torso.

side bends

5. Wrist Bends

  • Stand with your arms relaxed and at the sides of your body with your palms facing towards your thighs.
  • Slowly and with control, bend your wrist so that your hand tilts towards your thigh.
  • Relax the hand back to the starting position
  • Slowly and with control, extend your wrist so that your hand tilts away from your thigh.
  • Relax the hand back to the starting position
wrist stretch

6. Forearm Rotation

  • Stand with your head facing forwards, your shoulders relaxed and your feet a hip width apart.
  • Whilst keeping your upper arms flush against the sides of your torso extend your forearms forwards away from your body with your palms facing the floor
  • Slowly and with control, rotate your forearms so that your palms are now facing the sky.
  • Return to your starting position, and repeat
musician stretch

7. Finger Extensions

  • Begin with relaxed palms and your fingers together.
  • Slowly and with control extend your fingers outwards and away from each other
  • Move your fingers horizontally.
  • Return you fingers to the starting position, and repeat.

finger exercises

To explore more Warm Up Exercises check out lessons by Thomas Viloteau and Eliot Fisk on tonebase!

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Dave McLellan

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