Your shoulder is a complex joint, and because it can move in several planes, it is particularly vulnerable to injury. The movements possible at the shoulder include medial and lateral rotation, abduction and adduction, flexion and extension, horizontal flexion and extension and circumduction. That's nine movements compared to just two at the elbow. To help keep your shoulder stable, a group of muscles called the rotator cuff, located underneath your main deltoid muscles, work to keep your shoulder properly aligned. The infraspinatus is part of the rotator cuff group.
Function of Infraspinatus
The infraspinatus is involved in lateral or external rotation of your shoulder and it also aids abduction. If this muscle becomes tight, it can throw your shoulder out of balance, which may lead to shoulder impingement syndrome, a common condition often seen in baseball pitchers, habitual weight lifters and players of racket sports. Regular stretching of the infraspinatus may help minimize your risk of injury. According to ExRx.net, the infraspinatus is the second most commonly injured rotator cuff muscle.
Standing Broom Stick Infraspinatus Stretch
Use a regular broom stick or similar lightweight pole. Hold the pole vertically behind you with one arm positioned overhead. Reach behind you with your other arm and grab the lower end of the pole. Your hand should be lower than your elbow. From this position, gently pull the top of the broom stick forward over your shoulder to push your lower arm backwards as you press your top elbow forwards. Hold the stretch and then repeat after switching arm positions. To maintain your current level of flexibility, hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. To increase your flexibility, hold for 30 to 40 seconds. This stretch also works the teres minor, which is another of the rotator cuff muscles.
Standing Infraspinatus Stretch
The standing infraspinatus stretch requires no special equipment and can therefore be performed almost anywhere. This exercise will not produce as deep a stretch as the broom stick stretch, but it is still effective. While standing in a relaxed position with your knees slightly bent, bend your arm and place the back of your hand behind your lower back. Reach around in front with your other arm and grasp your elbow. Gently pull your arm forwards to increase medial rotation. You should feel a mild stretch deep in your shoulder. Hold for as long as required and then change arms. Intensify this stretch by leaning forwards at the waist.
Posterior Shoulder Stretch
This gentle exercise targets all of the posterior shoulder muscles and is an ideal exercise for use as part of a shoulder-specific warm up or cool down. Raise an arm so that it is horizontal. Bend your elbow slightly. Using your opposite arm, grasp your elbow and pull your arm across your chest. Try to keep the arm you are stretching parallel to the floor. Hold for the desired duration and then change arms.
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