Whether you play a stringed instrument for a living and spend long hours practicing or whether you work in front of a computer all day and play on weekends or for your own pleasure, it’s important to remember that your hands and bodies are precious instruments as well and should be given the same TLC. Before you start to play, and perhaps every 30 minutes or so, give your hands a break by doing some of the following warm up exercises. Be sure to repeat each exercise with both hands. And take the opportunity to do some deep conscious breathing as well. Begin by simply loosening your wrists and shaking your hands to get the blood flowing. Open your hand wide, making space between each finger very slowly, then hold it for 10 seconds. Close your hand into a gentle fist and hold that for 10 seconds. Do that several times, and as often as you think of it throughout the day. It’s a convenient stretch that can be done anywhere, any time. Now, holding your hand out in front of you with elbow locked, very gently and slowly bend each finger back and hold for a few seconds. Remember your thumb as well. After stretching all the fingers individually, then hold all four fingers back together for 10 seconds. This loosens stiff fingers, hands and wrists and, completed daily for a few months, hands will become more flexible. Next, still keeping the elbow locked, grasp hand and slowly bend wrist down until a stretch is felt. Hold for 10 seconds. Now, turning the hand over and continuing to keep elbow straight, grasp hand and slowly flex wrist until stretch is felt and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat all of the exercises above on your other hand. If you need to do a quick stretch between songs, interlace your fingers, exhale, and push your hands out to shoulder level turning your palms away from you. This quickly stretches the wrist and finger muscles and increases circulation to the area. Here’s hoping you will incorporate these simple exercises into your practice or at your desk. Your hands will thank you for it! Stay tuned for torso exercises to keep you loose and limber during practice or at the office.