Stretches for the Subscapularis

Doctor examining her patient arm
A man is stretching his shoulder. (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

The subscapularis is among the four muscles the rotator cuff. It originates on the anterior surface of the scapula and inserts into the top of the humerus -- the upper arm bone. Together with the other rotator cuff muscles, the subscapularis maintains the integrity of the shoulder joint. Subscapularis stretches help keep the muscle flexible, ensuring the shoulder joint moves freely through its range of motion and preventing postural imbalances.

Warming Up

Start with some dynamic stretches to warm up, loosen up, and put your shoulder joints through a full range of motions. Lean forward and place one hand on a surface with your other arm hanging freely by your side. Swing that arm forward and backward, then side to side and finally in a circular motion. Do these motions 15 to 20 times with each arm. These dynamic stretches work all three heads of the deltoids, as well as the subscapularis, supraspinatus and infraspinatus. The supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor are the other rotator cuff muscles.

Combating Postural Imbalances

Short and tight subscapularis and pectorals may cause a protracted shoulder girdle, with your shoulders pulled forward, according to ExRx.net. Correct this postural imbalance with a doorway subscapularis stretch. Stand in front of an open doorway, bend your elbow and place the inside of your forearm flat against the wall. Keep your upper arm roughly parallel to the floor. Step into the doorway with your far leg, hinge forward at the hips and gently push your forearm against the wall. You should feel a stretch at the front of your shoulders and your upper chest. Hold the position for a slow count of 10, then relax. Repeat twice, then switch arms.

Improving Shoulder Flexibility

External rotation inflexibility of your shoulders increases your risk of injury when performing exercises that involve externally rotating your shoulders away from the central line of your body, according to ExRx.net. These include exercises such as pec dec flys and the behind-the-neck barbell press. The broomstick subscapularis stretch increases flexibility, reducing the risk of shoulder injury. Stand and hold a broomstick behind your back with one hand. Place your other hand against the end of the broomstick and gently push until your arm moves behind your back. Hold for a slow count of 10. Repeat, then change arms. Do three to five sets. You should feel a stretch on the front of your shoulders.

Gripping, Pulling and Stretching

The towel stretch may also improve your ability to externally rotate your shoulders. Grasp a large towel with a wide grip, with your elbows slightly bent. Hold the towel above your head and pull it behind your head while simultaneously pulling outward on each side. Hold the position for a slow count of 10. Complete three sets. You should feel a stretch on the front of your shoulders and your pectorals.

Timing of Static Stretches

Don't do static stretches for your subscapularis before your workout. According to a study in the May 2009 issue of the "Journal of Sports and Conditioning Research," static stretches before exercising may hinder exercise or sports performance. Perform static stretches as part of your cool-down after exercising.

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