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March 7, 2023
Author: Shelby
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  • Star Exercise of the Week: Wall Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

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! 

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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.

Medical Disclaimer

This website is intended to provide educational information only and should not be taken as medical advice. The information shared on this website is based on research, but is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. We recommend that you consult your healthcare provider for any specific questions or concerns you may have. The website does not accept responsibility for any harm that may occur from using the information given on this site. Speak to your medical provider about any health issues!

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