Improving posterior shoulder mobility will help reduce shoulder impingement, improve posture and maximize shoulder health. Tightness often develops in overhead athletes or in response to repetitive stress/micro-trauma and even injury. The following techniques can be performed with a lacrosse, tennis or trigger point ball at home to perform active release for tight soft tissue.
Execution: In standing, position the trigger point ball along the posterior shoulder. Next, leaning into the ball slowly move the body so that the ball is moving up/down, side to side, or in circles along the posterior shoulder musculature. Move the ball to hit the posterior joint line, latissimus, trees major and posterior rotator cuff musculature. Increase the pressure as tolerated while seeking out tight or tender spots. Perform this general compression for 1-2 minutes.
Now, proceed to active elevation for 3-5 repetitions moving the arm in the capsular plane. Finally, actively move the arm across the body into horizontal adduction for 3-5 repetitions. This is a very effective technique for improving horizontal adduction which is often limited in throwers and following an injury.
Application: This exercise is a simple way to reduce posterior shoulder tightness and address trigger points that may be present specifically in the posterior shoulder. Tightness and trigger points in the infraspinatus are common and create lots of dysfunction in the shoulder. You may also see tightness in the teres minor. Problems may include a rounded shoulder, chest tightness, a rotated scapula causing fatigue in periscapular muscles, trap tightness and even anterior compression of the humerus.
It is essential that any trigger points be resolved prior to stretching to make a lasting impact on the soft tissue mobility. Performing soft tissue work for at least 2-3 minutes prior to posterior shoulder stretching will markedly improve shoulder health and posture, while reducing injury risk for overhead athletes, clientele doing resistance training and anyone involved in daily repetitive overhead work.