Rotator Cuff Stretches

by PhysioAdvisor Staff

Exercises > Flexibility (Muscles)Rotator Cuff Stretches

(Main muscles involved: Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus, Teres Minor, Subscapularis)

The following rotator cuff stretches are designed to improve the flexibility of the rotator cuff muscles (figure 1). You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to commencing them.

To begin with, the rotator cuff stretches should be held for 15 seconds and repeated 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain free. Generally you should choose one or two rotator cuff stretches that are most comfortable for you and perform them 1 – 3 times daily. As your flexibility improves, the rotator cuff stretches can be progressed by increasing the frequency and duration of the stretches provided they are pain free.

Relevant Anatomy for Rotator Cuff Stretches

Figure 1 – Relevant Anatomy for Rotator Cuff Stretches


Rotator Cuff Stretches

Arm Across Chest Stretch

Begin this exercise standing tall with your back and neck straight. Gently take your arm across your body using your other arm to take it a little further. Hold at a mild to moderate stretch pain free for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times on each arm.

Rotator Cuff Stretches - Arm Across Chest Stretch

Figure 2 – Arm Across Chest Stretch (right side)

Subscapularis & Pectoral Stretch

Begin standing tall with your forearm against a wall and your elbow bent to 90 degrees as demonstrated (figure 3). Gently turn your body away from the wall until you feel a mild to moderate stretch across your chest and front of your shoulder without pain. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times on each arm provided the exercise is pain free.

Rotator Cuff Stretches - Subscapularis & Pectoral Stretch

Figure 3 – Subscapularis & Pectoral Stretch (right side)


Rotator Cuff Self Massage Exercises

The following rotator cuff self massage exercises are designed to improve the flexibility of the rotator cuff muscles and are an excellent addition to the above stretches. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to commencing them.

Foam Roller Rotator Cuff Release

Place the foam roller under your shoulder blade (rotator cuff) as demonstrated (figure 6). Using your legs, slowly move your body forwards and backwards allowing the roller to massage the shoulder blade region and back of the shoulder. Breathe normally keeping your muscles relaxed. Repeat this process for 15 – 90 seconds provided it is comfortable and does not cause pain. This exercise can also be performed with your hands behind your head or your arms across your chest.

Foam Roller Exercises - Rotator Cuff Release

Figure 6 – Foam Roller Rotator Cuff Release


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