December 13, 2011

RollStretch techniques for rotator cuff muscles – long and short sticks


This clip shows ways of using sticks to stretch, and strengthen, the internal and external rotator cuff muscles. These are supraspinatus (under trapezius, along the top border of the shoulder blade), subscapularis (inside the shoulder blade, between it and the ribs), and two smaller muscles at the back of the shoulder blade, teres minor and infraspinatus. All hold the humerus, the upper arm bone, into the shoulder joint.

You will need a long stick (around 1.25m or four feet) and a short one (600m or two feet).

Follow along with the instructors; the beauty of using the sticks in this way is, firstly, to be able to find any tender lines in either internal or external arm-in-shoulder rotation, and secondly, using the same tool to concentrically *strengthen* the same muscle--tendon--fascia line. One of the great advantages of using the sticks this way is that we will be strengthening the tissues at the *end of the range of movement*; this is hard to do using conventional approaches to strength training.

The second sequence shows how to use a short stick to massage many impossible-to-reach-on-your-own spots on your back. In particular, a pesky little muscle called serratus posterior superior can be directly worked. An accessory breathing muscle, it can cause pain that feels like it's 'under the shoulder blade' – but usually you can't get to it. In this exercise, the shoulder blade will have moved around the ribcage, exposing this muscle to direct pressure.

Audio version

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