September 29, 2022
Author: Shelby
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  • Star Exercise of the Week: Sleeper Stretch

The sleeper stretch targets the motion of shoulder internal rotation.

Normally with shoulder pain and dysfunction, one of the top functional motions lost is reaching behind the back. You’d never realize how often we do this until your shoulder won’t allow you to do so!

This stretch is very easy to do right at home in your own bed.

Here’s how it goes!


Step 1: Starting Position:

  • Lay on the same side you intend to stretch (Yes, you will be laying on that shoulder).
  • Position the arm to be stretched with the elbow bent 90 degrees, so that the fingers are pointing to the ceiling (Your palm should be facing in the direction of your feet).
  • The goal is to have the elbow in line with the shoulder.


Tip: If your shoulder is hurting in this starting position, instead of your elbow being in line with the shoulder, move it down so that you lessen the angle.

Step 2: The Stretch:

  • Use the opposite hand and place it over the forearm on the arm to be stretched.
  • GENTLY, begin to slowly push the forearm down in the direction of the surface you’re lying on.

Important note: Do NOT use too much force with this, or else you could irritate the shoulder. Also, make sure the shoulder stays flat on the surface, and does not lift.

  • Aim to hold the stretch at least 30 seconds, or up to 1 minute. 

That’s the sleeper stretch!

Again, just make sure to be gentle with this stretch. While it’s very easy to do, sometimes if the shoulder is already irritated and/or it’s done incorrectly, then you won’t respond as well to it.


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About the Author Shelby

Shelby Green is a Florida-licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), currently practicing at St. Anthony’s Resource Center Outpatient Rehabilitation in St. Petersburg, FL. Shelby received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of South Florida, followed by her DPT from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Shelby has 6 years clinical experience practicing in both the acute care and outpatient rehab settings. Specialties include orthopedics, with additional training in specific manual therapy techniques for pain management, as well as extensive training as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

Shelby is a Tampa, FL native, which is where she and her husband currently reside. Their favorite activities include spending time with family and anything outdoors, such as walking, bike riding, and going to the beach.

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