The rotator cuff is a common injury area. Yet it is not well know how to work with this muscle groups in order to keep the shoulder joint ligaments and muscles healthy and durable. This article contains 7 subscapularis stretches and exercises to prevent stress and strain of the posterior shoulder joint and the muscles surrounding it.
The subscapularis is a muscle that stands between the shoulder blade and the ribcage. The way it is positioned means that it is almost totally inaccessible to us, however, we can reach a small part of it.
The subscapularis is the largest muscle in the rotator cuff, which is a group of four muscles that attaches your upper arm to your shoulder. These muscles help you lift and rotate your arm.
The subscapularis connects from your shoulder blade to your humerus, or upper arm bone. The most common problem with the subscapularis is it tightening and restricting range of motion.
When the subscapularis, which is located near the shoulder blade, becomes chronically tight it can bring several negative ramifications such as impingement pain and pinching in front of the shoulder blade.
If you feel that your subscapularis is in need of a much-needed stretch, you’ll find this article helpful.
When a muscle is tight, its spasmed fibres affect not only the primary muscle it also effects other local and supporting structures such as blood vessels and nerves.
In the case of subscapularis, surrounding connective tissue that could be affected are the armpit artery and the ulnar branch of the brachial plexus (the nerve that goes down to the inside of the elbow and the ring and little fingers).
It’s certainly noticeable that patients often comment that they feel odd sensations in these areas, during muscle release in their tight subscapularis or a rush of heat to the area.
People who work a 9-5 job where they spend most of their time sitting will be prone to developing tightness in the subscapularis. This is because the arms tend to internally rotate when we are seated with our shoulders hunched over in front of a computer.
Rather than sitting up straight with our shoulders rolled back with a healthy balance between our arms being internally and externally rotated, we tend to position ourselves in the former.
Staying in a posture with our arms internally rotated for too long will cause the muscles to adapt to this new position.
In our case, this means the subscapularis will be positioned in a shortened position for too long. Over time this develops into chronic tightness in the subscapularis.
Watch this video for a complete series on range of motion for the shoulder joint.
This is absolutely the FIRST STEP to getting rid of subscapularis disfunctions. Do not try to do any stretching or strengthening exercises if you don’t do this first.
If you have a tight subscapularis, this is not going to be a pleasant process! It can be a very painful trigger knot to release so you have to be brave and go all in.
It’s very difficult to explain exactly how to locate the subscapularis, but if you press around the area underneath your armpit until you feel a tender spot, that’s likely to be it!
Once you’ve found it there are several methods to release it. You can use your own hand, a massage stick, or a massage ball.
The basic premise is to press around and massage the subscapularis whilst rotating the arm internally and externally to help release the muscle and tendon.
If you feel a tender spot you can also hold onto it for at least 30 seconds until the pain subsides. Repeat on the other subscapularis.
Again, this will prove to be extremely uncomfortable to do for some people. However, as you begin to massage the area more frequently you should eventually get past the initial discomfort and be able to massage around the area without feeling any pain.
To stretch the subscapularis effectively you will need to move your arm in the opposing body plane where the tightness is present. The subscapularis can move in an array of planes such as:
Medial rotation and depression of the humerus at the glenuhumeral joint, extension and adduction of the shoulder joint and abduction of the inferior border of the scapula.
We will be primarily focusing on the arms internal and external rotation.
The second stretch requires a doorway or a protruding wall or pillar of some kind.
For proper function of the subscapularis and shoulders, you’ll also need to strengthen it through the right exercises.
This can also be performed with the resistance band behind your back. Demonstrated in the video above.
Make sure you are implementing these stretches and exercises daily for optimal shoulder health.
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In happiness and health,
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