Ah band camp….long, hot days with your instrument and at the end you’re rewarded with an aching back and feet, right? Well, you might not be able to get out of marching band, and you might not be able to change your band director’s mind about what’s good for you to do vs. what looks good, but here are 3 postural hacks you can do on the field, without anyone really even noticing that may just make things a little more bearable.
1. Think about your posture differently
Words carry a connotation. When you hear “snap”, you probably stand very tall and might even lock your knees. We all know this is bad, no one wants to pass out. However, we’re going for a clean and precise movements, right? Well, the thing is, instead of thinking “back straight”, think “chest high”. This will allow you to breathe better and feel more fluid with still excellent posture. No one will be able to see a difference, but you’ll feel one. Try thinking these phrases:
- Float the flute up
- Chest up
- Stand tall
- Breathe through your feet
- Chin parallel, top of head floating up
- Elbows relaxed
- If you have a partner, during a break try this to see if you have relaxed arms: Stand behind your partner and have them bring their flute up. Put your hands under their elbows and see if you can feel the weight of their elbows.
2. Alternating bracing and butt squeezing
Huh? Yep, I’m serious. You know how at the end of the day your low back, heck, your entire back just aches and about the only thing that feels good is to lie on the floor with your feet up? (You SHOULD do that for at least 5-10 minutes every day, by the way) Well, this will prevent that. Everybody knows your abs are part of your “core” but so is your rear end. Your glutes aid in hip extension and when you engage them (ahem, squeeze) your spine is in neutral and that takes the pressure off of your low back.
Added bonus? You can’t squeeze your butt and lock your knees very easily. Boom, no passing out!
Ok what the heck is bracing? Imagine what you would do if someone was going to punch you in the stomach. You wouldn’t double over before they did it (you’d get punched in the face), you’d brace, that intrinsic protective feeling all around your middle. You can do this to a lesser degree while you’re standing there. You can do it while breathing (if you can’t, you’re doing it too hard). Alternate bracing and butt squeezing (in a discreet way, think micro-movements) and when you get home lie on your back with your knees up and say goodbye to back pain.
3. Lift the arches of your feet
I’m giving you all the weird things today, aren’t I? Yup, but, do your feet hurt? Does your back hurt? Do your knees hurt? A big part of that can be because your feet are rolling inward and your feet are flattening out when you stand still. Standing with your feet together, knees together is an awkward, unnatural position, and the body will compensate any way it can to keep you upright.
So try this next time you’re standing tall and still.
- Try to lift the arches of your feet, both or one at a time.
- This is a very small movement. It’s like bringing your big toe towards your heel and rolling outward at the same time.
- Imagine trying to pick up something with the middle of your foot
- All else fails, squeeze your toes inward for 4 counts, then lift them high for 4 counts and do your best to notice your arch.
- Lastly – make sure your shoes have some arch support!
Hope these were helpful – leave me a note here, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook message and tell me how these worked for you and if you have any other problem areas! A more in depth article on movement and marching band is coming soon!