Universal shoulder/infraspinatus/subscapularis stretch

Universal Shoulder/Infraspinatus/Subscapularis Stretch

If you could do one stretch to help with shoulder pain, what would it be? One stretch that would help to loosen up tight shoulders. Whether they are tight in the front, sides, back of the shoulder, or armpit (axilla), what would it be?

First, we want to look at how our shoulder is designed.

The arm bone is held into the shoulder socket by the wing bone/ scapula/ shoulder blade. The shoulder blade makes up part of the shoulder socket. The arm bone (humerus) attaches to the shoulder socket. Whenever the arm and hand move, the shoulder blade stabilizes them.

Whenever the hand, arm, and shoulder move, four rotator cuff muscles contract and relax to make those fine motor motions. When you are typing on the computer, your rotator cuff muscles are helping to fine-tune the movements in your hands so that the muscles in your hands can move your fingers accurately.

When we hunch over, whether it is a steering wheel, phone, or keyboard, we are contracting a major rotator cuff muscle and irritating it. It is the subscapularis.

The subscapularis is a big rotator cuff muscle that sits between the shoulder blade and the spine. The muscle raises your shoulders to your ears. It pulls the shoulder blade up and back. When you are reaching for something, it gets stretched out.

It’s like sitting in front of a computer, hunching over and leaning forward to get as close to the computer screen as possible to help you focus. This motion will irritate your entire shoulder, into your upper and lower back, and into your neck.

When the subscapularis goes into spasm, it hikes the shoulder blade up to the ears, making it hard to relax. It might feel like your shoulders are permanently shrugged. Some people will say that they feel like there is a button underneath their shoulder blades. Others will say they feel pulling in the front of their shoulder or behind their shoulder blade and into their neck. The subscapularis will be involved no matter what type of shoulder pain they feel.

The best way to avoid shoulder pain in general and to prevent it from coming back is to watch your posture. Be mindful about how you sit and move. When you sit, try to have something behind the small of your back to maintain the curvature of your lower back.

I like rolling a towel into a cylinder, wrapping rubber bands around it to keep it in place, and putting that in the small of my back. You then lean your upper back against the seat, which will keep your back in a good position and in good posture. Bonus if you can have something to rest your head back onto.

When you lean back against the seat, with the lumbar roll behind the small of your back, it pulls your shoulder blades down your back, relaxing the subscapularis. It also maintains the lumbar curve, which helps to keep your lower back, hips, and legs in good posture.

You can also try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. That will bring them down your back and get them in a good position. The best stretch for this area is a yoga stretch.

If your right shoulder is painful, place your right hand behind your back, palm out. Try to reach the bottom of the left shoulder blade. Even if you can’t touch the bottom of the left shoulder blade, that is fine. Get your right hand as high up the left side of your back as possible without bouncing or pushing. Make sure to tuck your right elbow into your side.

Now, lean back against a wall. Touch your heels against the wall. Touch your head against the wall. Look straight ahead.

You might feel that stretch going into your neck, upper back, back of the shoulder, front of the shoulder, and even down into the arm.

This stretch will stretch all of those areas out. If I could recommend one universal shoulder stretch that would affect most shoulder issues, I’d recommend this one. I do it daily to manage my shoulder pain.

I’d recommend the same for you.

I hope that you have a pain-free day.

The Overlooked & Under-treated Causes of Your Shoulder Pain

You may not know that you have a subscapularis or a serratus anterior, or care. But if you have shoulder pain, you may want to tune in and pay attention.

Continue reading “The Overlooked & Under-treated Causes of Your Shoulder Pain”