The Strains of Drumming

Drumming is fun, but it can also be a pain in the neck, and shoulders, and wrists, and hands, etc.

Image of Stick Figures Stretching on Drum Strains Page

Photo by OpenIcons / CC0 1.0

If you play drums like me, which is way too hard, then you’re definitely exposing yourself to a lot of physical strain. Just as drum parts break, so can your body. Bad technique is often the cause. However, when it comes to drums, I just want to hit… hard! Don’t get me wrong. I want to be good. I want to be rhythmically accurate. I also want to be dynamic. But I want to be heavy-hitting, and the way I play is often considered bad technique. I realize I have often used too much motion to achieve what I’m doing. And that has taken a toll on my body. I’m a guitarist first, and that is where I choose to place my technical focus. Drums are just a good outlet for my aggression. There is not a better release of intense emotion. It shows in my playing. But as I age, playing like Animal begins to hurt more. So preparation is key. There are warm-ups and exercises that can keep your body loose and your muscles ready to go.

Before I play, I do exercises for my shoulders, my wrists and hands, and my calves. Here are a few good ones. Remember to breathe.

The first exercise in this video I have used often, not just during drum warm-up, but also in everyday stretching.

The second tricep stretch in this video is one that I’ve done for nearly 15 years. It seems to be a good one.

This video has a good exercise for stretching the calf muscles.

While I’m playing, I aim to decrease any needless motion. I used to believe that reducing any motion in my playing would decrease the impact of the hits. But one day I decided to take a really close look at what I was doing. I slowed down my playing and examined every hit. What I found is that I could still get the same sound and impact without using as much of my body. The adjustments I made were not difficult at all, and in the process I also improved the control of my playing. The adjustment in technique was not major, but it goes a long way in reducing wear and tear on my shoulders and wrists. And as a guitarist first, not destroying my wrists is a good thing.