Part 4: Isometrics for Posture by Brandon Green
Back pain is often associated with playing drums for an extended period of time. This is one of the main reasons I started educating drummers on health and fitness concepts. Sadly, most drummers don’t start thinking about protecting their backs until they’re already experiencing some level of discomfort.
Even if your back is feeling good, try to integrate some of the isometrics discussed in this article to minimize the likeliness of developing back issues down the road. If you already experience back pain while playing, start by performing only the exercises discussed here that you are able to execute without discomfort. Taking a proactive approach to maintaining back health is ideal for being able to play drums for the rest of your life. Oftentimes when drummers have to give up playing, it’s because of back pain.
The Internal Components
The spine is a complicated structure, with many unique curves. Before embarking on any of the exercises in this article, make sure you’re sitting at an appropriate height. Refer back to my previous series on ergonomics to determine your optimal seat height.
Think about the spine like a garden hose full of water. The cylindrical tension around the entire midsection is what produces spinal stability. The warm-up below will help prepare all of these core muscles throughout their entire range of motion. If you would like to explore more expansive positions, please do so. But if you’re currently experiencing pain in your back, some of these exercises might be too extreme for you to do comfortably. Consult your primary healthcare provider if you have any doubt whether or not you should be trying these exercises.
The basic guideline for executing these exercises is simple. Stay within your active range motion, avoid pain, avoid fatigue, focus your attention on the muscles being used, and contract your muscles tightly when doing the movements.
Repeat the following exercises two or three times, and hold the positions for three to five seconds while contracting targeted muscles.
Spinal Flexion Via Hip Flexion
While seated, lift one leg to a full bent-knee hip flexion. Focus on contracting the hip flexors and hold. Switch sides and repeat.
While seated a few inches away from a wall, extend your back until it meets the wall. Once you make contact, continue trying to extend your back to create contraction in your lower back.
With your arms extended and your hands together, turn your torso until your hands meet the wall. Continue to apply pressure into the wall to create a contraction. Hold and repeat on the opposite side.
Seated Hip Hike
Lift the top of one side of your hipbone towards your ribcage and hold. Squeeze the oblique/lateral spine muscles. If you feel discomfort, lower to a more comfortable position.
This entire warm-up routine should only take a few minutes. These isometrics are just an introduction to warming up efficiently. The great thing about isometric exercises is that they help increase your awareness of the parts of the body that you use when playing the drums.
Muscle and exercise specialist Brandon Green is the founder of Strata Internal Performance Center, and is the owner of the drummer-centric biomechanics and fitness website drum-mechanics.com.