The infraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles that laterally rotates the shoulder and stabilizes the shoulder joint when it moves. It extends from the infraspinatous fossa -- a region in the lower part of the scapula -- to the greater tubercle of the humerus. Although you can't truly stretch the infraspinatus by itself, you can stretch the rotator cuff muscles together with an emphasis on the infraspinatus.
The cross-arm stretch pulls the infraspinatus horizontally and slightly upward. You can do this stretch practically anywhere -- at your office desk, standing, kneeling and even on your back on the floor. As you bring your right arm across your chest, grab your right elbow with your left hand and gently push your right arm toward you. Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths on each shoulder.
Seated Bent-Over Stretch
Sitting for long hours at your desk can stiffen your shoulders and spine. This stretch targets your back and your infraspinatus together. Sit at the edge of your chair and put your palms behind your lower back with your elbows pointing out. Exhale slowly as you carefully bend forward as far as you can. Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths. Repeat the exercise one or two more times if necessary.
Medial Shoulder Stretch
This stretch works on your infraspinatus with your trapezius and levator scapulae in either side of your neck. By pulling your right wrist downward with your left hand, you stretch from your shoulder blade up to the right side of your neck. Increase the stretch by tilting your chin toward your left chest.
Sometimes stretching the infraspinatus and the other rotator cuff muscles isn't enough to improve shoulder mobility. Since these muscles are connected to other muscles in your back, any lack of tissue mobility in your back can influence how much mobility your rotator cuff muscles have. Try stretching and moving your spine first before stretching your rotator cuff muscles. Use a foam roller to gently massage your entire back before stretching. If you have any pain or had recent surgery in your shoulder or spine, check with your physician before starting any stretching program.
- Stretch to Win; Ann and Chris Frederick
- ExRx: Seated Bent-Over Infraspinatus Stretch
- Bodyreading the Meridians: The Arm Lines
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.