Are you feeling tight in your shoulders? Perhaps your ROM is restricted? Try these 15 posterior capsule stretches to release tension and elevate the performance of the rotator cuff.

What is the posterior capsule of the shoulder?

The rotator cuff has several muscles with insertion points into the capsule. These muscles are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and the subscapularis.

Teres Minor

The Teres Minor is part of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff helps hold the head of the humorous with the socket of the scapula during shoulder movements. It is this movement that helps prevent joint dislocation. The teres minor inserts into the capsule of the shoulder joint.


The supraspinatus inserts in the upper aspect of the shoulder capsule. It also helps stabilize the shoulder in order to prevent dislocation. The supraspinatus allows the arm to abduct. Just like when we are holding a shopping bag away from us at the side of the body.


The infraspinatus is Latin for below spine. That is exactly where it sits regarding the rotator cuff the infraspinatus allows the shoulder to laterally rotate the humerus.


The subscapularis sits on the front of the shoulder (anterior) it stops the shoulder from dislocating the head of the humerus from the deltoids. They allow you to perform the function of shoulder rolls towards the back of the body.

Teres Major

The Teres Major a muscle in the rotator cuff is heavily used when we adduct and medially rotate. What does that mean? When we are performing the action of rowing or cross country skiing, we are using the teres major muscle. Jerky movements damage this muscle.

What Causes A Tight Posterior Capsule?

The tightness of the posterior capsule and the muscle-tendon unit of the posterior rotator cuff is believed to limit internal joint rotation. Posterior capsule tightness leads to GIRD (glenohumeral internal rotation deficit). Muscle imbalance and/or improper neuromuscular control of the shoulder complex: (Jobe et al)

How Do You Measure A Tight Posterior Capsule?

Posterior shoulder tightness is currently evaluated by using two measures of shoulder joint range of motion, internal rotation with the shoulder abducted to 90°, or horizontal adduction with the shoulder flexed to 90°.

Standing or laying down on a bench bring your arm to a right angle. Keeping the arm in this placement try and rotate the arm through the shoulder capsule only. Do this in a forward motion and a backward motion. Measure how far you were able to mobilize the shoulder on each side.

Posterior Capsule Stretches:

Stretch 1 Assisted reverse shoulder stretch

How to:

  • For this stretch, you will need a bench.
  • With the bench at your posterior.
  • Reach around with your arms and place the palms of your hands on the bench.
  • Open the chest wide and slightly depress your hands into the bench.
  • To make it deeper mover further away from the bench keeping your hands in the same place.


upper body stretches

How To:

  • In a seated position hands move to the floor behind you.
  • Take your arms back as far as possible keeping the hands in line with the shoulders.
  • If you still can’t find a stretch you can bring your hips away from the body.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.


upper body stretches

How to:

  • Begin seated on your mat with your knees bent and your feet behind you.
  • Draw the body forward to the mat.
  • Extend the body away from the hips.
  • Essentially you are in a downward dog position, instead of being on your feet your on your knees and shins.
  • Inhale, sweep one hand up towards the sky.
  • Exhale bring the had down and through so that it is under the body.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Try for three rounds.

Simple Shoulder Stretch

How To:

  • You can be standing or seated.
  • Extend the arm so that the wrist is in line with the shoulder.
  • Bring your arm across the body.
  • Use your other hand to draw the arm closer into the body.

Internal Rotation Stretch

How To:

  • Laying on your side.
  • Extend the bottom arm out straight.
  • Gently recline around 35 degrees. So that you’re lying on your shoulder blade.
  • Bend the elbow.
  • Gently use your other hand to gently move the shoulder and arm away from you.

Chest and Shoulder Opener

How To:

  • Inhale sweep the right arm up and over so that the hand is near the shoulder blade.
  • Exhale keeping the left arm beside you bend the elbow and bring the forearm behind your body.
  • Try to clasp the two hands together.
  • If your range of motion inhibits this you can use a belt, strap or towel.
  • Ensure that your ribs stay knitted in towards your body.


upper body stretches

For this move, you will need either a band, strap, or you could even use a belt or broom.

How To:

  • Raise your arms above your head using your strap or apparatus.
  • Take your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Rotate the arms backward so that it meets your lower back.
  • You may need to adjust your grip depending on how tight your chest and shoulders are.
  • Return to your starting position.
  • Repeat ten times.

Internal and External Rotator Cuff

While I could write 100 how too’s on this one video alone I would recommend for you to simply watch the video if the pictures are confusing for you.

If you are looking to release tension through the neck and shoulders try these stretches.

I hope you enjoyed my posterior capsule stretches, your shoulders should be feeling a lot looser after completing them. If you have any further advice I would love to hear about it and our readers would too!

In health and happiness,

Jadore Vanessa

Vanessa Barthelmes.

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