Right now, most team trainers and PT’s are feeling a disturbance in the force with the previous statement. I’m convinced that the “Sleeper Stretch” must be on the final exam for these certifications or degrees and count for 90% of your grade, because everywhere in our game, players are lined up to hit the table and have their shoulder capsule abused.
Abused. That may sound like a strong word for something that is supposed to relieve tightness in the shoulder and create more range of motion. But the fact is that stretching the shoulder is a temporary relief, creating more instability, and only promotes further tightness.
Here’s why… the shoulder is a mobile joint and stretching a mobile joint only destabilizes the joint. You may temporarily remove tightness, but you have only created more ROM without any stability. Why is stretching the shoulder only temporary relief? The body’s natural protective mechanism is to tighten up positions of instability. ROM is only good if it is stable.
The body is made up of flexible, alternating stable and mobile joints that are powered by muscle through ranges of motion specific to the action of throwing. However, 1) loosening a mobile joint will render it vulnerable and inefficient, 2) stretching a stable joint must be movement specific and not de-stabilizing, and 3) any strengthening that impedes flexibility will increase risk of injury and hinder performance.
So, what should you do instead of stretching your shoulder? Flex don’t stretch! A good flexibility program will give you increased range of motion with stability. Think “push” instead of “pull” if you want to improve a mobile joint. When we “push” it incorporates the muscle structure surrounding the mobile joint, but “pulling” does not.
Do you homework, find a good flexibility program and stay off the trainer’s table! Sign up for discounts on our training programs, including Upper Body Flexibility!