Eagle Stretch

Dose

Perform 3 twenty-second holds throughout the day, or when symptoms come on.

Purpose

The muscles of the rotator cuff are often implicated in shoulder dysfunction. This exercise may help to lengthen some of these muscles and other structures in the shoulder. It can be a good symptom reliever to perform before bed if you experience pain at night.

Method

Place the arm you want to stretch directly in front of you with the elbow bent so that the forearm points directly at the ceiling. Reach the other arm as far as you can across and under the arm you want to stretch. Reach the hand of the bottom arm between your body and the top arm, and use the fingers to push the top hand towards the side of the body you are trying to stretch. At this point, you should feel a stretch in the shoulder.

At first, you may be unable to to push the top hand with the bottom hand due to a lack of mobility. This is very common, and you can work around it by using a broomstick or wooden dowel to assist.

Start in the same position, and reach the arm holding the dowel under and across the arm you want to stretch. Reach back with the top hand and grab the top end of the dowel, while controlling the bottom of the dowel with the other hand. Pull the bottom of the dowel away from the side of the body you want to stretch while still holding onto the top with the hand of the arm you want to stretch. This will lever the dowel against the top arm, pushing the top hand towards the side you want to stretch. You should feel a stretch as you apply force with the dowel.

Common Mistakes

• Stretching too vigorously. Because of the long lever made by the forearm in this stretch, it does not take much force to achieve a stretch. For the best results, push gently with sustained pressure, rather than pushing the forearm quickly or vigorously.

Progression Threshold

Keep using this exercise once a week once symptoms resolve to maintain shoulder mobility.