One of the oft-overlooked elements of releasing a chronically tight shoulder is shortened muscles and tendons in the posterior shoulder region.
The specific tendons and muscles that tend to be short in those with chronic shoulder tightness and impingement are:
In this video, while stretching the posterior shoulder region, I demonstrate a subtle movement pattern that I find highly effective for restoring proper length to the tendons and muscles noted above, which invariably leads to improved shoulder mobility, especially while the arms are used overhead.
Start on your back, extend the target arm straight out to your side on the ground at 90 degrees from your trunk, then slowly roll your body over that arm as far as you can comfortably go – the goal is to work your way to having your chest rest on the downside arm; in this position, you should feel a stretch in the posterior region of the downside shoulder.
If you’re able to, raise your other arm and let it rest on the ground above your head.
Rest in this position and be sure to maintain regular breathing.
Once comfortably settled into this stretch, rotate your downside hand, alternating between maximum pronation and maximum supination, all while striving to keep the elbow of that arm straight. As you go from pronation to supination and back again you should feel a subtle movement and increase in intensity of the stretch in the posterior aspect of your downside shoulder – this is how you gradually lengthen the fibers of your infraspinatus, teres minor, and posterior deltoid muscles.
Another way to lengthen these muscles is to push your upper body up fro this position by a few inches, mainly by pushing your downside arm into the ground; you can also push into the ground with your other arm to help push your upper body up. Maintain this elevated position for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax and lower back down into the initial stretching position. Repeat a set of pronating and supinating your hand while your posterior shoulder is being stretched.
When you feel you can handle more intensity, you can repeat all of the above while your right leg is raised up by your right side, resting on the ground – ideally, you want your right hip and right knee bent at 90 degrees and fully resting on the ground.
Repeat the entire process for your other shoulder.
If you haven’t already found my suggested exercise routine for shoulder impingement, you can find it here:
Mobility Exercises for Shoulder Impingement
For an overview of exercise progressions that you can work at to improve your mobility and balance in a systematic way, please feel free to visit our Mobility Exercise Progressions page here:
Mobility Exercise Progressions
For some suggestions on how to set up a simple workout area at home, please feel free to view:
Suggested Resources for a Home Gym