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12 January 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Stretching pt 13- Front of the Shoulder

In the introduction post to this series, we reviewed and answered some common questions regarding stretching, including why, when, how, etc. Click here to review it.

In this post we will be talking about how to stretch out the front of the shoulder. This area is a big intersection area with the larger pec major/minor and deltoid muscles overlapping the smaller rotator cuff and bicep tendons as they sneak through to insert on the front of the shoulder. Intersection areas are prime spots for injury. In particular this area is a common site of tendonitis, muscle sprains/strains and joint impingement (when structures get pinched due to tight overlying muscles and joints).

The Rules:

1) Stretching should NEVER hurt. The goal is to only go until you feel a pull in the muscle. It should not be to go until it hurts in one of those “no pain, no gain” efforts. It should be comfortable and repeatable, allowing you to move a little further with each repetition.2) Perform stretches when the muscles are warmed up. This can be following a workout or following work with the foam roller. Click here to review the self massage post for the front of the shoulder (this includes pictures and video using a foam roller and tennis ball to review 3 self muscle release techniques).

2) Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times. You can hold longer than the 20 seconds, but the reps are key. You will always get more out of stretching frequently versus one killer session a week.

3) If hurt- be sure to stretch out the opposing muscle groups first. For the front of the shoulder, this means the back of the shoulder, between the shoulder blades and the mid-back region. If it is too painful to stretch out the front of the shoulder due to injury, focus on these groups first and then work your way up  to stretching out the injury itself.

How To:

1) In this post we’re going to focus on one stretch.

a) To start, you’re going to need a doorway or corner of the wall. Stand facing the doorway and position your arm so that it’s at about shoulder height with your elbow bent at 90 degrees (the arm should be in an “L” position). From here, the only thing moving is the lower part of your body. Start by rotating your feet away and let the body follow. Try to keep your neck and head relaxed and do not pull on the arm. In fact, as you do this stretch, don’t turn your head/neck at all. Always keep it facing forward and let your body do the work. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat 4 times on both sides.

b) To modify this stretch you can do a few things. The first is to straighten your elbow and put your hand on the wall instead. Before you try this, make sure you can do the stretch with straining your neck or without pain in the front of the shoulder. The second way to modify this stretch is to change the angle of the arm (moving it above and below shoulder height). This will let you target the upper and lower corners of the front of the shoulder. Start with the arm in the “L” position and then work your way up to straight arm with these. remember- let the lower body rotate and keep your neck relaxed!! same counts. 20-30 seconds for 4 reps.

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