Shoulder Stretching

Shoulder stretching exercises, including anterior shoulder stretch, chest stretch, triceps stretch, and latissimus dorsi stretch, as well as partner-assisted exercises that can increase a range of motion still further in the shoulder joints.

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Anterior Shoulder Stretch

Stretching the front part of the shoulder and chest muscles can help to improve posture. There are a number of ways of stretching the muscles at the front of the shoulder.

Teaching point:

  • Stand upright with the back straight
  • Clasp your hands behind your back
  • Slowly lift your hands away from the back and up towards the ceiling
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Variations

  • Place the palms of your hands on your lower back
  • Try to bring your elbows together behind your back 

Muscles Stretched

  • Anterior Deltoid
  • Pectoralis Major

Anterior Shoulder Stretch II

Using furniture, doorways and other equipment can be very useful to provide an effective stretch. Just make sure it’s sturdy first!

Teaching point:

  • Place one hand on the top of a doorframe (or something similar if you can’t reach it)
  • Keep the elbow straight
  • Take one step forward and lean forwards until you can feel a stretch
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Variations

  • If you can’t quite reach it, use the highest point you can reach
  • Anterior Shoulder Stretch I

Muscles Stretched

  • Anterior Deltoid
  • Pectoralis Major

Chest Stretch

Stretching the chest muscles, especially pectoralis minor can be beneficial in improving the posture of the upper back and shoulder girdle.

Teaching point:

  • Stand in a doorway or next to a wall
  • Bend the arm being stretched and place the forearm flat against the wall or door frame
  • Step forwards and rotate your body away from your outstretched arm
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Muscles Stretched

  • Pectoralis Major
  • Pectoralis Minor

Chest Stretch with a Partner

Getting a partner to pull the arms back gently can be an effective way of stretching the chest. Just make sure you communicate and let them know when you can feel a gentle stretch.

Teaching point:

  • Hold your arms out behind you, parallel to the floor
  • Your partner should be standing behind you and holding your lower arms
  • Get your partner to gently apply pressure as if trying to push your wrists together
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Variations

  • Chest Stretch

Muscles Stretched

  • Pectoralis Major
  • Pectoralis Minor

Triceps Stretch

The muscles of the arm including the Triceps are often overlooked when it comes to a stretching routine. Stretching the Triceps, especially after a weights workout can help reduce DOMS.

Teaching point:

  • Place your hand on your upper back with the elbow bend towards the ceiling
  • Use your other hand to pull the elbow towards your head
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Variations

  • Hold a towel in the hand of the arm being stretched and bring it into the position above so that the towel is hanging behind your back
  • Bring the other hand behind you at waist height and pull down on the towel

Muscles Stretched

  • Triceps Brachii

Latissimus Dorsi Stretch

The lats are regularly left out of stretching routines, however, all it takes is a simple stretch like this or kneeling on the floor.

Teaching point:

  • Stand upright with your arms above your head
  • Reach up as high as possible
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds
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Variations

  • Perform one arm at a time
  • Latissimus Dorsi Stretch II

Muscles Stretched

  • Latissimus Dorsi

Posterior Shoulder Stretch

Stretching the back of the shoulder can be effective in rotator cuff injuries and also when the muscles of the upper back and neck are tight.

Teaching point:

  • Stand upright and cross one arm across your body.
  • Using the opposite arm, pull the elbow of the arm being stretched towards the opposite shoulder
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Variations

  • Bend the elbow of the arm being stretched

Muscles Stretched

  • Posterior Deltoid
  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Rhomboids

Posterior Shoulder Stretch II

This stretch is great for rotator cuff injuries and can also be performed before exercise, especially if throwing is involved.

Teaching point:

  • Stand with your hand on the middle of your back and the elbow pointing out
  • Use the other hand to pull the elbow forwards
  • Make sure you keep your backhand still
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Variations

  • Supraspinatus Stretch

Muscles Stretched

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus

External Rotation Stretch

The muscles of the rotator cuff such as the subscapularis should be stretched prior to activities involving overhead movements such as throwing and racket sports.

Teaching point:

  • Lay on your back with your shoulder abducted to 90 degrees and your elbow flexed to 90 degrees
  • Get a partner to externally rotate your shoulder, ie. push the fist back towards the floor
  • Make sure they support the upper arm at the elbow
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Variations

  • If you don’t have a partner to help, stand with your back against a wall
  • With the arm in the same position trying to touch the fist on the wall
  • When this is easy, move forwards slightly to allow more movement
  • Don’t lean back!

Muscles Stretched

  • Subscapularis
  • Teres Major

Supraspinatus Stretch

Stretching the supraspinatus and other rotator cuff muscles is important in throwing and other overhead activities such as badminton. These muscles are often overlooked and frequently injured.

Teaching point:

  • Place your hands on your hips and move the elbows forwards
  • Don’t move your hands, just your elbows!
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Variations

  • Posterior shoulder stretch II

Muscles Stretched

  • Supraspinatus

Assisted tricep stretch

The assisted triceps stretch aims to stretch the triceps brachii muscle with assistance from a therapist.

Teaching point:

  • The therapist supports the elbow and holds the wrist with the other hand
  • The hand is moved towards the shoulder until a stretch is felt by the athlete

Muscles stretched

  • Triceps brachii
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