Improve Your Overhead Position

Tucson Physical Therapy Warrior RX

Who is this stretch for?

  • Anterior Shoulder Pain.

  • Posterior Shoulder Pain.

  • Difficulty with achieving full stacked overhead positions without low back extension.

  • Tight Shoulders.

  • Desk workers.

  • Basically everyone who lifts anything overhead, IE: everybody.

If you’ve ever had pain in the front of your shoulder and tried pec stretching and thoracic spine foam rolling with little to no change in your shoulder pain, it’s time to look at the back of the shoulder for some hidden mobility you didn’t know you needed.

What does this stretch do?

The glenohumeral joint, aka the shoulder joint, gains a lot of its stability from the surrounding joint capsule. (An important note: around the shoulder joint, the capsule is blended with your rotator cuff muscle tendons.) When the shoulder joint moves, the capsule and rotator cuff muscles work together to keep the joint centered allowing maximal movement without irritation or IMPINGEMENT. Stiffness of the posterior capsule or weakness of the rotator cuff can contribute to irritation of any of the surrounding structures such as your rotator cuff tendons, your bicep tendon, or anterior shoulder joint. Unfortunately, many of us spend a lot of time at the computer, in the car, or sitting in general resulting in a posture that often leads to some stiffness of the posterior joint capsule in the shoulder. As we reach overhead or push weight overhead this centered joint position is difficulty to achieve and can result in shoulder pain over time. This stretch addresses this restriction and can improve a lot of overhead shoulder pain when performed correctly and intentionally.

How do I do the stretch?

Option One:

  • Lie directly on the side you want to stretch

  • Shoulder flexed to 90 degrees, your elbow should be at shoulder height

  • Forearm perpendicular to the floor

  • Use opposite arm to push your forearm towards the floor without changing your shoulder or trunk position

  • At end range, push the back of your forearm into your palm and hold for 5-10 seconds

  • Exhale, relax, and try to push your forearm a little closer to the floor

Option Two:

  • Lie directly on the side your want to stretch with a towel placed at the shoulder blade.

  • Shoulder flexed to 90 degrees, your elbow should be at shoulder height

  • Forearm perpendicular to the floor

  • Use opposite arm to grasp your elbow and pull towards the ceiling without change your shoulder or trunk position.

  • At end range, push your elbow into your hand and hold for 5-10 seconds.

  • Exhale, relax, and try to pull your elbow towards the ceiling.

What should I feel?

A stretch in the BACK of the shoulder. If you feel this in the front of the shoulder, re-evaluate your position, or try the second option. If you still can’t feel this stretch, try using a foam roller or lacrosse ball along the backside of your shoulder for 1 minute per side and re-try.

When should I do this?

  • Before or after any overhead lifting

  • Daily if having shoulder pain

Are you looking for a solution to nagging shoulder pain or customized shoulder rehab to address your specific deficits? Email to schedule your appointment with Warrior Rx.

Own your movement. Build your resilience.

Warrior Rx.

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