How Do I Increase My Shoulder Strength and Flexibility

Wondering why your overhand activities are getting more difficult, despite all the hard work and training you  put in. Whether it’s swimming, pitching/throwing in baseball, tennis or gym exercises, loss of flexibility to your posterior inferior gleno-humeral ligament can be a major source of your limitations. It can also result in poor biomechanics of the shoulder. Ever experience the sensation that no matter how hard you are working or throwing that day, you just don’t feel as strong through your shoulder(s)? The tightness that develops from a restriction to this ligament, which allows the ball of the shoulder to slide down the socket of the shoulder joint in the last few degrees of over-hand movements can place more stress on your labrum leading to risk of rotator cuff injuries and shoulder impingement. At my Maryland based practice, Kimbia Physio in addition to good muscle balance and range of motion, all my over-hand patients recovering from injuries ranging from shoulder strains/sprains to post-operative rotator cuff, labral repairs must demonstrate sufficient flexibility to this structure as part of the criteria to returning to sport.  It is a structure that in my 10 years of practice is seldom mentioned or addressed adequately. Additionally I use this test to reassess athletes throughout the year.  By measuring their mobility before the season begins and then throughout the season, it ensures athletes are not loosing the flexibility to this critical structure.

Here is how you can check for yourself. Compare the flexibility of your dominant and non-dominant shoulder, are they the same?

Lie on your side, with hand stretched out in front of you and your elbow bent (shoulder horizontally adducted 90° & elbow flexed 90°). Slowly rotate downward, your palm facing downward (internally rotate shoulder) until a stretch or resistance is felt to the back on the shoulder.

Posterio Inferior Glenohumeral Ligament Stretch
Posterio Inferior Glenohumeral Ligament Stretch (c)Kimbia Physio, LLC

Make sure the back of the shoulder does not lift or shrug. Can you feel the difference between right and left? Over time the goal is to try to get to approximately 90° internal rotation, pain free.  This is a good self screening/assessment technique for athletes. It is not meant to be a self treatment tool.  If there is pain just initiating this movement, STOP.

Seek treatment from a skilled Physical Therapist who can more accurately and safely treat your condition.  The point is, do not wait until you have pain, get Physical Therapy first.