Disclaimer: Please note, these suggestions are simple stretches for Celtic harpists in generally good health, and are not to be taken as medical advice. If you have chronic issues or injuries, have your doctor or chiropractor suggest appropriate stretches.
If you play the harp, you’ll want to experiment with stretches that counteract the extended and often asymmetrical use of your arms, shoulders, neck and even hips. It is helpful to think in terms of counter motions, to offset prolonged muscle use and repetitive motion of harp practice.
Christina Tourin teaches the importance of “counter motions” for Celtic harpists to counteract neck, shoulder and hip fatigue. I have found these easy to do in the middle of practice and beneficial to keeping my muscles from cramping.
Tina’s Three Simple Stretches:
1. Because your head is usually turned towards the music stand, slightly downward, she suggests rotating your neck and stretching as you look over your right shoulder.
2. Because your arms are extended in front of you, and you might have lifted your shoulders (though good technique will prevent that), do the backstroke with your arms.
3. Because you’ve often been sitting with your weight unequally balanced on your left hip, shift your weight onto the right hip and reach down to the floor with your right hand.
Other Sources for Stretches for Celtic Harpists
There are many other basic stretches that you can find and use before and after you sit at the harp. One great shoulder stretch involves holding your arms behind you and clasping your hands, feeling your shoulder blades come towards one another. You can intensify the stretch by bending over at the waist and extending your clasped hands upwards.
Of course, you should also remember to walk and stretch your legs, as you would anytime you’ve been sitting for a long time, so when you’re done practicing, get your body moving. Swimming is an excellent choice for undoing all the forward motion associated with playing the harp (as well as using the computer or writing). My favorite thing about swimming at our local recreation center is that I can stretch and relax afterwards in the hot water pool!
Many yoga poses are great stretches for Celtic harpists. For starters, try:
~ The cat/cow for your back
~ Any form of spinal twist for re-aligning your body, and
~ The shoulder stand for relaxing your shoulders (but for this one I use a rolled blanket under my neck to cushion it).
Qigong also offers some wonderful stretches and hand-relaxing exercises.
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