Shoulder external rotation is a tough motion to regain when recovering from a shoulder injury.
This shoulder direction is commonly used for functional tasks, such as reaching the hands behind the head to wash your hair or reaching back to grab your seat belt.
There are a few different ways you can practice regaining shoulder external rotation range of motion. One of the easiest ways to start with is stretching the shoulder in this direction while using a wall for support.
This particular stretch will keep the upper arm in a neutral position while promoting practice of external rotation. Many other stretches for this direction position the upper arm in horizontal abduction, where the elbow is positioned out to the side in line with the shoulder.
This neutral alignment will many times feel a little more tolerable and better for pain management when initially trying to regain external rotation.
Here’s how to do it!
Step 1: Starting Position:
- Find either the edge of a wall (You could use an open door too, but you’ll just need to use a foot to keep the door from moving on you).
- Place a rolled towel between your upper arm and torso for support.
- With the elbow bent 90 degrees, place the palm on the wall.
- Your torso should be facing forward in a nice, upright posture.
Step 2: Moving into External Rotation:
- While maintaining the above starting position, simply turn your upper body away from the arm being stretched.
- This should be a slow, controlled motion.
- The hips should not move with you.
- Rotate until you feel a tolerable stretch in the front of the shoulder and/or upper arm.
- Hold this for 5 seconds, then return to your starting position.
- Repeat 10x.
Tip: If you’re able to tolerate it, you can try holding the stretch for a longer duration (30-60 seconds), repeating 1-2x.
That’s all there is to it!