What do I avoid during all-fours rocking stretch for shoulders?

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This exercise is excellent for lengthening chronically structures and the shoulder joint and shoulder joint. The exercise really focuses on lengthening the latissimus dorsi and teres major muscles as well as the shoulder capsule. Because of this it is common for the low back to arch when performing this exercise. As you stretch the latissimus muscle it will pull on the lower back and cause lumbar spine lordosis. It is important to start with the abdominals drawn-in and the lower back flat. Maintain the drawn-in, flat back posture through the entire movement.

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
Common errors when doing the all-fours rocking stretch for shoulders (an exercise that passively restores normal shoulder-joint mechanics) include:

  • Don't round your upper back (thoracic spine) in order to flatten your lower back or to help your arms move into an overhead position. Instead, keep your thoracic spine relaxed and flat.
  • Don't let your head to remain up (extended) as you rock down to your feet. Allow your head to slightly flex to your chest, keeping your neck lengthened at the base of your skull.
  • You may experience shoulder pain if you try to rock back too far. Stop when you feel any pain.
  • Shoulder pain may be caused by rotating your elbow out too far, which impinges the shoulder joint. Try to maintain a neutral elbow, and stop if you feel pain in your shoulder or you can't maintain your arm's neutral position. Keep your elbow creases slightly pointed forward instead of allowing them to rotate inward.
  • Maintain adequate elevation of your shoulders. Shrug your shoulders up when you initiate the rocking-back movement; or slide your hands forward prior to rocking back to help pull your shoulders up toward your ears.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.