Best Posterior Shoulder Stretch

Need a Shoulder Stretch for the Back of the Shoulder?

We see lots of folks who are active “overhead” athletes – swimming, tennis, pickleball, volleyball, and baseball/softball.  Young and old and everything in between as well.  Physical therapists are always asked about good stretching techniques.  It’s no secret that the internet is a sea of both information and misinformation.  As physical therapists, we’re a trusted resource for these types of things.  One stretch we see done incorrectly a fair amount and one we subsequently teach a lot is a stretch for the back of the shoulder.

tennis 300x200 Best Posterior Shoulder Stretch

The follow through of the tennis serve. The posterior shoulder muscles work to decelerate the arm.


To discuss the importance of this stretch, let’s use an analogy.  Think of what makes a car go.  If you press on the gas, the car accelerates.  Conversely, if you press on the brakes, the car slows down.  Well, the shoulder in the overhead athlete is similar.  The muscles in front of our shoulder are the “gas” – they make the arm move at high velocities to execute the sport movements.  Well, we know that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.   The “brake” muscles in the posterior shoulder, the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers, have to slow the arm down.  They have to violently contract to keep the shoulder in the joint.  As a result, they can become tight and tender.  Sometimes, people even get tender, painful knots in back of their shoulder.   Therefore, we encourage them to do the “Genie Stretch” in the video below.  You’ll see the other common posterior shoulder stretch that is done regularly.  It’s not a terrible stretch, but it’s not ideal.
car 300x199 Best Posterior Shoulder Stretch
We suggest doing this stretch after practice or games, repeat 2-3 times, hold 30 seconds each time.  We hope this shoulder stretch helps you stay away out of physical therapy clinics and off the bench!  If you do have pain that is limiting your ability to perform, give us a call.  It would be a privilege to serve you and partner with you in your care.  You can see a PT in Kansas without a physician referral, so don’t let it get worse!  We have locations in Overland Park and Prairie Village to serve you.

 

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