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I think we all understand that we need to stretch our forearm, but many people stretch only their wrist and the underside of the forearm, because that’s where we feel the tendons contracting and releasing, and we all want to avoid the dreaded carpal tunnel.
But it is of paramount importance that we stretch both the under side and the top side of our forearm regularly. Watch the video to learn how to properly stretch. If you want, you can find more discussion about the why’s and how to’s after the video.
Think about it: When we put a finger on the fingerboard, it’s the under side of our arm doing the work. But to lift it back off again, it’s the top side of our forearm! So really, the top side is doing as many repetitions as the underside!
When I stretch, I am trying to accomplish two things. I am trying to maintain flexibility, but more importantly, I am trying to lengthen the muscle fibers so that they don’t get into a shortened, contracted formation.
I had a real crisis with tennis elbow a while back (from doing PUSHUPS, of all things),
and I learned a TON from the physical therapy I received. For example, did you know that ALL the muscles on the top side of our forearm attach to ONE small spot on the elbow, about the size of a dime? This puts incredible torque and workload on that small attachment site.
My therapists would stretch that muscle by running their oiled thumbs toward my elbow, slowly, pushing the flesh and stretching the muscle, and then they’d run their thumbs away from my elbow.
I asked what that was supposed to accomplish, because it didn’t feel too hot, and they said they were helping the muscle to elongate its fibers so there wasn’t so much torque where the muscles attached to my elbow.
So now when I stretch, I stretch my wrist backward gently, then stretch individual fingers. And then I stretch my wrist forwards, and then press individual fingers to stretch even further.
I stretch my wrist rotated opposite of the way it rotates to play violin, pulling the
heel of my hand gently around. I also rotate it the same way I play violin, but I press on
my pinky and ring finger slightly, which gives the most wonderful stretch all the way up
to the elbow!
Try to think about elongating your muscles. If you want to intensify your stretch, try straightening your arm when you do it, but be careful.
Please don’t play favorites! Stretch BOTH arms! Your bow arm will benefit equally from
I stretch my elbow by bending it, and then pressing it to bend more than it does on its own. (GENTLY!) You can feel tiny stretches happening in the elbow, but it also stretches the tricep, which gets a workout from violin as well. And in the spirit of doing things symetrically, stretch your biceps too! You can do this on your own just by positioning yourself on a wall or chair, and pulling your straight arm back at whatever angle gives a good bicep stretch.
I don’t know if I should say this or not, if my insurance agent reads it, my rates will probably go up….but I stretch all the time while driving. (Mostly at red lights.) If I’m
driving to a gig or even just to the store, I press my fingers on the steering wheel and
stretch my wrist backwards, then forwards. (Of course, you don’t have to use the steering
wheel…I’m not sure why I do!)