Shoulder Sleeper Stretch for Pitchers

Reference:Maenhout A, et al Quantifying acromiohumeral distance in overhead athletes with glenohumeral internal rotation loss and the influence of a stretching program. Am J Sports Med. 2012 Sep;40(9):2105-12.

Athletes involved in overhead activities such as pitchers, football and volleyball players have been shown to have a loss of shoulder internal rotation ROM on their dominant side.

This loss of ROM has been shown to reduce the subacromial space which explains the greater prevalence of impingement in those athletes. Basically the smaller the acromiohumeral distance (AHD), the greater the risk of having a painful shoulder.

For this study, all athletes with limited shoulder medial rotation were randomly assigned to either a 6 week“sleeper stretch” program or to a control group.

Basically the stretching group showed significant improvements in their shoulder internal rotation ROM (15⁰ on average), while the control group showed no changes in their ROM.

Most importantly the subacromial space, as measured by ultrasound imaging, increased in the stretching group but did not in the control group.

I give the “sleeper stretch” to almost all my overhead athletes both as a treatment and as a preventative measure. Now I have the evidence to support giving that stretch.

Posted on: September 26, 2013

Categories: Shoulder

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