I saw this video posted on the facebook page. It’s very thorough and very good to do some sort of stretching, especially if you’re going to have a long session or if you have physical challenges. In addition to stretching you can do ‘shake outs’ in between, during practice sessions. So if you’re practicing a challenging fingering, doing a lot of repetitions and you start to feel some pain/ tension, stop and drop the left hand down so blood flow can return to the fingers and vigorously shake out the hand and fingers.
Whenever and where ever you feel pain or tensions building during practice, stop and move that part of the body. For tense shoulders, do circles in the air with your elbows. This forces the muscles around the shoulders to expand and relax, allowing blood flow and thus, oxygen to return to that area. For the violin hand, in addition to ‘shake outs’, I find that turning the arm in the opposite direction stretches tired and over stressed muscles. For playing, the left arm twists counter clockwise and the hand is up near the face. So, to relax it, turn the arm clockwise and hold the hand down to your side.
For tension in the back, we want to attempt to pull the shoulder blades apart and stretch the spine. So bending over with arms dangling toward the floor, reaching… will pull the shoulder blades apart. Keep the head down with chin pulling toward the chest, shoulders rolled forward to fully stretch the spine.
A good warm up stretch routine is very useful and wise. It will help you relax while practicing and help prevent injury. Intermittent ‘shake outs’ and stretches or opposing actions will release tension brought on by challenges to the fingers, arms, neck, back and spine.