Warm up and Stretching

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by PosterBoy, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. PosterBoy

    PosterBoy Member

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    How long does it take your hands to feel warmed up and stretched to play your best.

    It seems to take ages for me, and only recently I've realised a lot of the limitations I've thought I'd got because of finger length, aren't nearly as much as I thought if I take the time to get my left hand warmed up and stretched.

    What is your warm up routine?

    I've got a feeling I need to get more structured and efficient in my practice time
     
  2. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    Hey PosterBoy

    I rarely feel that I 'need' to warm up, but I usually start practicing with scales and patterns and the odd arpeggio, some picking exercises and some slur (Hammer-on pull-off) exercises... Perhaps some fixed finger exercises or finger independence exercises.

    Doing scales that involve finger stretches in a comfortable position, say at the seventh fret and then working down the neck is ok too.

    Never physically stretch your fingers. Always do it on the guitar. You can stretch your wrists, fore arms, shoulders, neck and back but not the fingers. They are too fragile.

    Problems with reach up the finger board are directly related to how much space you can put between your index and middle finger on the fretting hand (like if you were doing a passionate peace sign).

    Practice fretting a note with the index finger then fret the next fret with the second. then play the index and skip a fret with the second. Then play the index finger and try to play the third fret away with the second (if this is tricky or in any way painful, just stick to two frets until it feels easy). Say you started on the fourth string in the fifth position on the note G, then the notes would be this: G - Ab - G - A - G - Bb - G - A - G - Ab - G. Do the same with the third (ring) finger, but go up to the Bb, same with fourth finger but aim for the the Db in the 11th fret. You can also slur this exercise so you are practicing two technical issues at the same time. Try moving this down the neck to the first position. Keep the first finger planted the whole time. As you do this, it is important that the pinky side of you hand moves up the neck, this indicates a good spread developing in the hand. In the first position, I can comfortably reach to the sixth fret using the first and fourth finger although I would rarely do this in my playing.

    Take it slow, stay relaxed and have fun!
     
  3. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    I take about 20 mins to warm up. I don't really do any stretches. I can comfortable spread my thumb and pinky into a straight line, so stretching them mis just not going to improve my reach. It's set.
    I vary my warm-up. Most often I play teh intro to Metallica's Seek and Destroy, which is a grrovy riff wiht a pedal, hammer/pull-offcombinations and string skipping. It gets my hands moving and gets my left/right co-ordinaiton happening.
    Once I've run through that for a few minutes, all best are off, and I play anything that takes my mood. Regardless, it takes about 20mins in total to feel really good.
    This is a big problem in music stores, where I am always cold and stiff, and in a short set thing, where there is no warm-up time.

    If you check my sig, you'll see that I stronlgly believe that you can always find a piece of music that incorporates the exercise you want to do, and that is way more fun.
     
  4. Mike T

    Mike T Member

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    I recently rested on these two excercies, one I got from here. But anyway, I use a metronome when I have one, preferebly at different tempos daily. First is a simple chromatic scale accross all strings within 5 frets, stretch the index going up to the next string and the pinky going down. Do that for an octve of frets up and down. Then the one I got from here I think the guy got it from the Musicians Institute. It's chromatic again, but starting by keeping all fingers firmly down on the low e string on all 4 frets. At the same time you pick the first note on the 5th string same fret raise the first finger from the 6th and fret it on the 5th. Then middle finger, ring, and then pinky. Do this for all fingers and string sets: 6-5,5-4,4-3,3-2,2-1 and then move the whole deal a fret up and go down with sets: 1-2,2-3,3-4,4-5,5-6. Go up an octave of frets and then back down. Both the exercises can be done in about 15 or 20 minutes and I am loose for a gig or for practice.
     
  5. musicianjs

    musicianjs Member

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    A great book I use for myself and with students is Jody Fisher's The 30 Day Guitar Workout. When I first met Jody he showed me 4 exercises from the book and I have been doing them ever since.

    p.s. DON'T try to the whole book in 30 days...nearly impossible.
     
  6. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules Former Lyricist for Calhoun Tubbs Silver Supporting Member

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    with all due respect, I strongly disagree with this. I used to think that the time it took me to get up to speed was just the "warming up" process, but once I saw Petrucci's video and started stretching more before I played, the time to get up to speed was cut in half. And for me, this definitely includes stretching the fingers. In a pinch, I've got it down to a few quick wrist, hand and then finger stretches, which get my hand MOST of the way loosened up in just a few seconds.

    I think part of the variance in answers you get might come from the different type of players answering the questions. Example, if I'm chording an acoustic and need a quick stretch, it's a bit different than if I'm going to be playing lead on electric. I think part of it has to do with physical condition as well. I know a guy who plays, and works out a lot. His hands are so tight from lifting weights that he has to stretch WAY longer than I do to get them loose. And, obviously just personal preference on top of that.
     
  7. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    I warm up but it's for some psychological reason. If I feel tight, I freak out, think I've lost the ability to play and then just lock up.
     
  8. Prodigy

    Prodigy Senior Member

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    Doesn't take me too long...I've been playing for a long time, so I just start out slow and gradually build up speed and get into the more complicated stuff. Try this for warming up...Play every bar chord you know (Major, minor, dominant etc...) with 5th and 6th string root notes chromatically from the 15th or 17th fret all the way down to the 1st fret and back. This will gradually stretch your fingers out and is a great warm up. After you've been doing it for awhile, try it with different chords using diminished, augmented chords etc., and if you want to improve your stretching ability, try it with 3 string sus2 chords as well as 6th and 5th string root add9 bar chords. Take it easy, and if you feel any pain, STOP.
     
  9. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Yep, I use 30 minutes of Jody's stuff to warm up also.
     
  10. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    That's the way I do it too. It takes me a good 10-15 minutes to fully loosen up.
     
  11. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    I wouldn't be too worried. Common beilef is that stretching and warming-up before sport reduces injuries, but large number studies dispute this.
    You are not doing any harm.
    Warm-up does get us up to maximum performance quicker, but that is a totally different carrot.:banana:banana
     
  12. townsend

    townsend Member

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    Basically agree. Somewhere (I can't recall where!) I read that stretching was overrated at preventing injuries. However, warming up, at least in track-and-field, was considered as effective at reducing injuries. This certainly makes sense for sprinters, among others.

    On Petrucci's stretching exercises (mentioned in one post above), there is one that I would not recommend. If done briefly, it probably won't do any harm, but anatomically, it doesn't make sense. He suggests that one grab one's hand by the fingers and flex at the wrist, so that the fingers comes close to touching the volar side of the forearm, and hold this position briefly. (In layman's term, volar side of forearm "runs into" palm of hand, and contrasts w/ the dorsum, the side of the forearm that "runs into" back of the hand).

    The problem w/ this stretching exercise is that it compresses the median nerve at the wrist. In fact, in medical examination, this posture, if held for awhile (30-45 seconds?), may produce tingling and/or numbness in the distribution of the median nerve (thumb, index, middle, and "half" the ring finger) . . . . it is known as a Phalen's sign, and if positive, is suggestive of carpal tunnel syndrome.

    This "bent wrist" posture may occur with the fretting hand when one plays a low slung guitar. If you play this way and don't have any symptoms, I wouldn't worry about it; continue to look cool. But I wouldn't make a habit of flexing my wrist and holding it as a routine stretching exercise.
     
  13. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Nah, I just play...
     
  14. spectreman

    spectreman Member

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    Takes me about 30 minutes to feel "comfortable" playing...no stretches, exercises, etc...just playing for about 30 mins get me feeling good. I do it before every rehearsal or show.
     
  15. shane88

    shane88 Member

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    i just don't play anything difficult :knitting

    the only time i notice that i can't play what i want is on a cold day when my hands are physically cold
     
  16. Kingpin

    Kingpin Member

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    It takes much longer for me to warm up my brain than to warm up my fingers.
     
  17. TommyStrat

    TommyStrat Member

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    Lots of good post here. One thing he mentioned that has not been addressed is his hand size. I have fairly small hands and have found that easy slow stretching helps a ton. Yes you can injure yourself stretching but in any sport stretching must come after a warm up. Swinging your arms helps get the blood moving and playing a major 7th chord at the octave and moving one finger down one fret at a time will stretch. Go slow, and if your playing better then your on the right track. Also if you have small hands a shorter scale of 24 3/4" is a bit better in my opinion. Good luck and let us all know how your doing. Great post from everyone.
     
  18. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    I tried to address this in the first response to this thread by suggesting:

    "Practice fretting a note with the index finger then fret the next fret with the second. then play the index and skip a fret with the second. Then play the index finger and try to play the third fret away with the second (if this is tricky or in any way painful, just stick to two frets until it feels easy). Say you started on the fourth string in the fifth position on the note G, then the notes would be this: G - Ab - G - A - G - Bb - G - A - G - Ab - G. Do the same with the third (ring) finger, but go up to the Bb, same with fourth finger but aim for the the Db in the 11th fret. You can also slur this exercise so you are practicing two technical issues at the same time. Try moving this down the neck to the first position. Keep the first finger planted the whole time. As you do this, it is important that the pinky side of you hand moves up the neck, this indicates a good spread developing in the hand. In the first position, I can comfortably reach to the sixth fret using the first and fourth finger although I would rarely do this in my playing.

    Take it slow, stay relaxed and have fun!"

    This is essentially an exercise that can help develop reach in hands large and small, it is on the instrument and it allows the hand/fingers to stretch in a reasonably gentle manner.
     
  19. shngn7

    shngn7 Member

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    I am the exact same way. Warming up and running through scales gets me thinking too much before a show which can be hazardous for me since I am in bands which I am the only guitarist and we do a lot of improvisation. One of the times I tried this I got really worried before the show because I couldn't smoothy run through a scale like I normally could and it really psyched/tripped me out on the first few songs. The clearer my mind is, the better I do. I hardly notice a warm-up period. I only notice a comfortability 'warm-up' period with the crowd (always have them first few song jitteries).
     
  20. PosterBoy

    PosterBoy Member

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    I think it's definitely a bit of both for me, I need to go through all my scale positions and positions linking them together to remind my brain and muscle memory about them as well.

    Hopefully it will get easier
     

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