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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT

A Rotator Cuff Stretch

You may be doing it wrong

There is hardly any point in our day that we're not using our rotator cuff muscles. But this group is not well-understood, either in location or in correct stretching technique. Stretching it is very simple, but stretching it correctly is nuanced. This entry is therefore meant to help you understand the function of this muscle group and how you can get the most out of your mobilization of it.

Anatomy Lesson:

The Rotator Cuff Group is a group of four muscles on the back of the body, which attach from about the head of the humerus (upper arm) to the shoulderblade (scapula) at various locations on the shoulderblade. These muscles are: Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis. They are grouped together not only because of their similar position on the body, but also because of their similar movement of the body. These muscles are all involved in rotation of the upper arm. If one of them is not moving freely, it can feel as if the arm can't rotate at all. If one of them is stressed or strained, it can feel as if the entire scapula is throbbing.

We use these muscles not just in sports (like pitching in baseball), but in our every day life, such as when holding the wheel of a car, chopping vegetables, or even opening and closing a window. They are also opposite of the pecs on the body, meaning if the pecs are tight, the rotator cuff group is also being affected. This means they are affected even by the position in which we sleep. Keeping them healthy and supple is therefore very important.

The Stretch:

Begin by standing with both arms at your sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reach the right arm across the front of your body, just below your chin. This placement of the arm is critical. If the arm is lower, the muscles will not fully be engaged. This arm should also remain straight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Cross the left arm over the right, above the elbow, bending the left arm to create a lever to pull the right arm toward your body. Pull softly at first and then gradually increase to move the head of the upper arm. (The movement of the upper arm should feel significant, although only probably an inch or so.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This description is simple, but the movement can be done poorly: If you bend the arm below the elbow, the stretch won't work. If the stretching arm bends, the stretch won't be as deep. If your stretching arm is too low on the body, at the level of your sternum, for example, the stretch won't work.

I've seen all variations of the less-than-ideal version of this stretch. No matter how flexible you are, this movement, if done correctly, should produce a feeling of stretch. If it isn't, check your form and try again.

And if you're still having difficulty with your upper arm and shoulder, or if you feel you need more attention from a professional, feel free to schedule an appointment in my Westport office. I'm happy to go through the stretch with you, and help you determine which muscles are causing you trouble. I'll see you in my Westport office!

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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT