The value of a proper warm-up routine prior to any activity has been recognized as an optimal method of preventing injury. Whether preparing for an athletic competition or a 15-minute drum solo, your performance will be enhanced by routinely performing a consistent warm-up routine that includes light cardiovascular, stretching, and flexibility exercises.
Warm up to drum, do not drum to warm up! Typically, the warm-up begins with a light cardiovascular workout to elevate local tissue temperatures and to increase blood flow to the limbs. Walking, jogging, or riding a stationary bike are standard methods and should begin slowly, be continuous, and progress gradually over 10 to 15 minutes. Warming up helps to raise the deep muscle and connective tissue temperature, which allows for greater flexibility and reduces the risk of muscle strain or tears and ligament sprains, helping to prevent post-exercise muscle soreness. The primary objective is to prepare our tendons, ligaments, and muscles for the explosive forces that are applied to these tissues during strenuous activity.
It’s important to understand that stretching isn’t a replacement for a proper warm-up and should only occur after you have finished a full warm-up routine. Static stretching is the most common stretching technique – others include dynamic stretching, slow movement stretching, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching.
Static stretching can be performed alone and consists of a voluntary passive elongation of a specific muscle. Stretch slowly and gently to the point of tension, which will cause a slight feeling of discomfort, but shouldn’t cause pain. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds and then perform it on the opposite side of the body. It’s a bad idea to bounce in order to further stretch a muscle. Stretches should be repeated two to three times. A complete stretching routine for drummers can be found in my article “Stretches For Drummers” in the December 2005 issue of DRUM! Magazine.
Once the major muscle groups have been properly stretched, you should begin drum specific warm-up exercises for your hands and feet.
A post-performance cool-down is just as important as a pre-performance warm-up. Walking or jogging for five minutes allows body functions to return to pre-exertion levels. Performing a light static stretch while cooling down will help circulate lactic acid that accumulated in muscle and control soreness. Applying ice to a sore area of the body will create a localized vasoconstriction in the affected area that will limit the inflammatory response that can potentially develop with repetitive activity.