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Posterior Shoulder Stretch: Sleeper Stretch

The posterior shoulder stretch – sleeper stretch is a great exercise for improving shoulder flexibility and range of motion. It is an easy and effective way to increase mobility and reduce tightness in the socket area of the shoulder while stretching the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. To perform this stretch, lay on one side, bend both arms to the side of your body and place the elbow at a 90 degree angle. Taking the arm at the top, pull it across the body towards the opposite shoulder, keeping the

Transcript

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This is Brent, President of B2C Fitness,
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and you can see here Mike is doing a
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posterior shoulder stretch, or a sleeper stretch. Now, this stretch stretches a few
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structures in the back of our shoulder including our posterior capsule, as well
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as our posterior deltoid, and these muscles have a propensity to get tight
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and overactive in those individuals with upper body dysfunction. Now, Mike has
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a bit of upper body dysfunction, it is of special concern that we fix it with him
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because he is a baseball pitcher. We don't want to take the chance that those
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short and long structures, not being at optimal length, are going to reduce his
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performance and increases risk of injury. Now, you can see Mike has kind of a
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complicated setup going on here with this stretch, and the stretch is one of those
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stretches that gets poorly done more often than I see it actually get done
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with good technique. First things first, you can see I've used a yoga block here,
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you could use a rolled up towel or anything else, to try to get his head
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level. We have to remember that the shoulder attaches to the scapula, and a
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lot of what controls scapular movement are muscles that attach to the neck, so
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I want the neck in neutral position so that those muscles are in neutral position.
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Then I want you to notice that I have him at 90 degrees of flexion at the
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shoulder, as well as 90 degrees at the elbow. His scapula is actually retracted
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and depressed, and we'll show you that at a different angle here in a second. The
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scapula is retracted and depressed and the lateral border stabilized against
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this table so that his scapula doesn't move, so that when we do actually push
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into internal rotation, we can ensure that we are getting a posterior
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shoulder stretch, and not just moving the scapula. So once he got to 90, is
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retracted, depressed, his head's level, all I've had him do is he's actually not pushing
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down his arm, he's just letting this arm kind of fall forward, he's been
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stabilizing his elbow with the other hand, and it's really just the weight of
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his arm that's helping to assist with a little
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extra force on this stretch. These are small structures, They're small
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muscles, we don't need an excessive amount of force, the only thing we're going to
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get from more force is either injury, or potentially just so much muscle spindle
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activity that we never get a relaxation response. He's going to hold this
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position for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. You can see here Mike's tight, optimal
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internal rotation, which is the direction we're going in here would be about 70
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degrees. A good queue for that is if Mike had an optimal internal
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rotation, he should be able to get his arm far enough that he can get his
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fingertips to touch the table. So let me show you what's going on in the back
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here before we end this video. Where a lot of people get
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confused with this stretch is they get messed up here. Here's Mike's scapula, here's
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the medial border, and then his lateral border is in the table. His lateral border is in
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the table, I want him to press for me, retract, once I get his lateral border stabilized
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on this table he can then start messing with his arm to get this stretch. How
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does that feel, Mike? Definitely tight. Definitely tight, all right let me have
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you turn back around one more time, we'll go over a couple little things that sometimes
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happen. Sometimes people get a little pain with this stretch and you can make
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a couple of easy modifications. As long as you can get the lateral border
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stabilized, if somebody is having pain in their anterior shoulder you don't have
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to retract them back so far. Probably the easiest modification to make, is
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rather than having them all the way in 90 degrees of flexion, which is going to
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start to butt that humeral head up against the acromion process, we can
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actually have Mike come down to about 70 degrees of flexion, or maybe even 60
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degrees of flexion, once again, we get the same position, except now he's kind of
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pushing towards his stomach rather than straight towards the table this way.
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Does that feel a little better Mike? -It definitely does. Alright so for Mike this
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is actually better. We don't want any pain during any of our stretches. If we
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start gearing up our pain response we are going to get a reflexive contraction,
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once again, we won't get the release that will ensure that we get a lengthening of
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this tissue so that we can set it back to optimal length tension, so we can get
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optimal performance out of his shoulder. Thanks again, Mike, from Metropolitan