Monday, October 10, 2011

Stretching - a key to recovery in shoulder arthritis, rotator cuff disorders, frozen shoulder

Stretching exercises are important in the non-operative management of many conditions, such as shoulder arthritis, frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), partial thickness rotator cuff tears and in the recovery from many shoulder surgeries.
While we've talked about about stretching before (here, here, here and here), I thought it might be useful to review some of the commonly used directions of stretching along with the medical names for each of them. Recall that all stretching needs to be done gently and often. The goal is not to cause pain but to gradually increase the flexibility of the shoulder. Check with your doctor to see if any of these stretches would be helpful for you.

Forward elevation (forward flexion, overhead reach)

External rotation with the elbow at the side

Internal rotation up the back with the elbow at the side

Cross body adduction

Internal rotation with the arm out to the side (internal rotation in abduction, the 'sleeper stretch')

The pulley

To track progress, it is often useful to measure the angles of motion and record them on a chart.


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