These 5 stretches help open and balance the shoulder girdle, decrease rotator cuff pain and increase range of motion for athletic pursuits.
Doorway stretch: Stand in a doorway with one foot straddling the threshold and your hands on the door jamb, elbows at your side. Shift your weight onto the forward foot until you feel a pull in your shoulder and chest. Exhale and actively stretch for two seconds using the door jamb as your assistant. Release the pressure, then repeat 10 times. Repeat in these three positions 1) elbows at your waist, 2) upper arms parallel to the floor, 3) reaching as high as you can. If your range is restricted by joint tension or pain, go as high as you can, increasing your range as you are able.
Back of the shoulder stretch: With your arm straight and your shoulder down, raise your arm and bring it across your body as far as you can. Continue to actively stretch as you assist with your opposite arm to bring the stretching arm closer to your chest. Exhale and stretch for two seconds. Release your arm to your side. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Stretching the lats: Raise your arm behind your head with your palm facing forward as if you were to touch your ear. Pull on your arm with your opposite hand on your elbow (or holding your wrist if your range is restricted). Exhale and actively stretch for two seconds. Release and repeat 10 times on each side. Those with acute pain from impingement or bursitis may not be able to do this at first.
Triceps stretch: Bend your elbow and place your hand on your shoulder. Raise your elbow so it points upward, keeping your arm close to your face. Assist the stretch with your opposite hand, either pulling your elbow back from over your head, or pushing it up if your range is restricted. Exhale and actively stretch for two seconds. Release the pressure. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Biceps stretch: Clasp your hands behind your back. Keeping your arms as straight as you can, raise your hands upward. Exhale and actively stretch for two seconds. Release the pressure and repeat 10 times.
If your range is too restricted, try this instead: Reach both arms out in front of you with your thumbs turned to face downward. Sweep your arms out to the side and backward as far as you can. Exhale and actively stretch for two seconds. Release and repeat 10 times.
Optional supraspinatus muscle stretch: A stretch for those with an impingement who can’t raise their arms above their shoulders.
Reach your arm behind you, elbow bent, forearm across your waist. Stretch by reaching toward the opposite side. Assist by holding and pulling your wrist. Exhale and actively stretch for two seconds. Release and repeat 10 times.