We all know that stretching is a smart thing to do. We read about the importance of stretching for our good health, to improve our productivity, and to help us feel better.
Run a 5K? Clearly your legs will need stretching. Do a heavy lifting routine? You’ll be feeling it more if you don’t stretch. It makes sense that we need to stretch after strenuous exercise. After all, you do all that hard work, and it’s clear that you will need to stretch to recover from itBut what about when you do very focused but less strenuous work? Lie in bed sleeping all night and you will need and want to stretch when you wake up. Binge watch an entire season and you will be glad to stand and stretch (probably before the big season finale!). Spend time at your harp practicing and what do you do?
It’s so easy to just get up from the bench and get a cookie! But don’t!! The time at your harp, especially if you are working hard learning or perfecting, may be the worst combination of strenuous work and lying about! Your larger muscles (think butt and legs which are not moving much) are holding still while your smaller muscles (think fingers, hands, and forearms) are working continuously. You may also be tense which will make all your muscles work harder.
In other words, when you are playing you are both not moving and moving like crazy! As we said above – both of those will leave you needing to stretch!
So be sure to add stretching to the end of your practice time. Stretch your small muscles – fingers, hands, arms, shoulders – to help them relax. And stretch the larger muscles – glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps – to help reinvigorate them.
And don’t feel like you have to wait until the end of your practice session to get a little stretching in. You can stretch at least every 45 minutes. Alternately, you can stretch at the end of each practice segment (warm up, exercises, reading, learning, etc.) to help keep you limber, focused, relaxed, and productive so you get the most out of your time at the harp.