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  • Ryan Jenkins: The Online Vocal Coach

Stretches for Singing


The act of singing is a full body experience, with your vocal mechanism relying heavily on a well-balanced and harmonious connection to the rest of your body. For this reason, it is important for all singers to ensure they undertake a full body stretch before singing.

In the same way that a runner would warm up and relax their muscles before a run, a singer must do the exact same before singing. Singing is a task that is not done without effort and takes more of a toll on your body that you might assume.

Our body must work in harmony with our vocal mechanism and in order to do this we must ensure that our entire body is free and open to allow the inter-connectivity of our vocal network and support systems to work without obstruction or strain. Additionally, physical stress, through tightness and poor alignment causes vocal stress and tension. If your vocal mechanism is stressed or holding negative tension, you greatly increase the risk of vocal injury. To reduce the risk of vocal injury, follow my step-by-step guide to stretching before you sing.


Shake it Off

Begin your stretch with a shake. Shake and wiggle your entire body free of any stiffness that you may be carrying. Allow the joints to release, ensuring you focus on aligning your body for good posture and releasing tension.

Chin to Chest

This exercise encourages you to release your head forward. Begin by gradually releasing your head by lowering your chin to your chest, inhaling at the same time. Whilst staying in the same position, exhale and continue to bring your chin further towards your chest. Relax, bring your head to centre then repeat the process several times, allowing your head to release further with each motion. Allow your neck to stretch gradually, then inhale whilst returning your head to a balanced position.

Look Left, Look Right and Roll

Staying with the head and neck, begin this exercise by slowly rotating your head from a centrally position to left, then towards the right. It’s important to do this slowly, rushing through these exercises will likely cause the strain and tension we are trying to avoid. Having rotated your head left and right several times, roll your head from left to right, allowing your chin to pass the chest as you journey through the motion. Think of this exercise as a slow swinging exercise rather than an entire head spin.

Stretch that Neck

With your head in a balanced position, stretch the outer muscles of your neck by slowly bringing you ears towards each shoulder. Starting with the left, inhale and drop your left ear towards the left shoulder. Whilst in that position, exhale as you drop your ear a little further. Bring your head to centre and repeat several times before doing the same on the right side.

Express Yourself!

This exercise encourages you to work and move the muscles in your face. Begin by gently massaging your entire face, being careful not to poke yourself in the eye as I so often do. With the tips of your fingers, traverse your way across your entire face, gently messaging through the cheeks, under the eyes, across the forehead and along the jaw line. Additionally, place your thumbs underneath your jaw and chin and begin to loosen by gently massaging.

Next, tighten all the muscles in your face by scrunching your face as tight as you can, screwing your entire face up so that it resembles a scrunched-up piece of paper. From this position, open your entire face as wide as it will go, opening the mouth, eyes, raising the eyebrows and so on. Furthermore, return to scrunching your entire face then swiftly release that tension by entirely relaxing your face muscles, allowing yourself to feel the release of energy.

Tongue Workout

Your tongue can be your worst enemy. Many singers hold tongue tension without realising the strain it is causing on their voice. By releasing the tension in the tongue, you allow your voice to be free and unobstructed.

Begin this exercise by sticking your tongue out as far as you can. Allow it to stretch to its outer most limit, then relax and return it to its natural position. Repeat this process several times, feeling the flow of energy as you release each stretch. As an additional step to this process you can curl your tongue and release, again monitoring the release in tension.

From there begin to clean your teeth with your tongue, working in a circular fashion. Allow the circular motion to traverse slowly across each tooth, not forgetting to clean the gums as well. Moving to the outside of your mouth, use your tongue to lick your lips, licking both clockwise and anticlockwise.

Let the Good Times Roll… In Your Shoulders

Simple, effective and a fan favourite… The rolling of the shoulders. As your shoulders roll through each rotation, be sure to lift them high and take them back, no lazy rolling! Roll in a circular motion one way, then reverse. In addition to this, you can also lift and raise your shoulders then release and push them down, feeling the stretch.

Today’s an Arm Day

Shake those arms, wiggle your fingers, and work your wrists, ensuring good blood flow throughout. From there, take your arm from the wrist and stretch it across the front of your chest, keeping your arm straight with your chest facing forward. Continue to breath naturally throughout as you switch sides to repeat the process with the opposite arm.

Release those Ribs

Starting with your left side, lift your left arm, raising it over your head. As you raise your left arm, lean over to your right, creating a crescent shape. This action will stretch your left side, allowing the ribs to open. Repeat this process with the right arm, leaning to your left to stretch and release your right side. It’s important to remember to breathe throughout, taking deep breaths as you stretch.

Do the Hippy Hippy Shake

A great pop song recorded by many bands throughout the fifties and sixties but also a valuable instruction for stretching your body for singing. Although more common in women than it is men, many people carry tension in their hips. Let go of all inhibitions, play the song on full volume and allow your hips to shake, twist, rock, and roll – work those hips in all directions!


Don’t Forget the Legs

Standing on one leg at a time, shake the opposite leg to get the blood flowing. From there, ensuring you’re well balanced, stand on your tiptoes. Whilst on your tiptoes, feel the stretch in your calf muscles before slowly returning your feet to the floor and gently bending your knees.


Relax and Breathe

Take a few moments to gently unwind, reflect and breathe.

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