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Stretching is a great way to reduce pain and improve flexibility in the shoulder area. One of the most important muscles to stretch in this region is the supraspinatus, which helps with abduction and external rotation of the arm. However, improperly stretching it can be harmful, so it’s important to know how to do so safely and effectively.

This article will discuss why stretching your supraspinatus is beneficial and provide step-by-step instructions on performing the exercise properly.

What is the Supraspinatus Muscle & What are its Functions?

The supraspinatus muscle is an important element of the shoulder joint, as its primary function is to help stabilize and assist in the upward rotation of the humerus. It is one of four rotator cuff muscles and supports the shoulder when used in activities such as throwing or reaching overhead.

This muscle also helps to prevent lateral motion of the arm, allowing it to move freely without risk of injury. Furthermore, the supraspinatus plays a role in the abduction and holding of the head of the humerus firmly in place within the shallow glenoid fossa. As such, it is integral for proper movement in everyday and advanced movements such as pitching or swimming strokes.

All things considered, though small in size compared to other muscles, its importance means that keeping it strong has many benefits for overall shoulder health and well-being.

The 3 Benefits of Stretching the Supraspinatus Muscle

The supraspinatus muscle plays a vital role in arm movement, particularly when lifting and rotating the shoulder. Various benefits are associated with stretching this muscle regularly, such as improved shoulder strength and flexibility, reduced risk of shoulder pain and injury, and improved coordination between shoulder muscles.

By stretching the supraspinatus regularly, individuals can improve their posture and range of motion and build strength in their upper body for use in daily activities or athletic endeavors.

Ultimately, incorporating supraspinatus stretching into an overall fitness routine provides numerous health benefits for any individual seeking to optimize their training.

5 Supraspinatus Stretches to Perform

To enable individuals to benefit from the advantages of stretching the supraspinatus muscle, it is important to know how to do so safely and effectively. When performing each stretch, individuals should focus on breathing deeply and regularly while maintaining a relaxed body.

  1. Cross-Body Arm Stretch
  2. Shoulder Slides
  3. Modified Side-Lying External Rotation
  4. Parallel Arm Wall Slide
  5. Doorway Stretch

The following outlines each stretch and its components in detail, along with alternative modifications depending on the individual’s fitness level.

Cross-Body Arm Stretch

Begin by standing upright and bringing one arm across your body, with your elbow at a 90-degree angle. Next, pull the arm closer to the body with your other hand until you feel a stretch in your shoulder area. Hold for 20-30 seconds, and then switch sides.

Shoulder Slides

Sit down with both feet on the floor and interlock your fingers behind your head, keeping your elbows wide. Slide your shoulder blades together, feeling a stretch in the front of your shoulders. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then release.

Modified Side-Lying External Rotation

Lie on one side with a pillow placed between your legs for support. Bend the arm closest to the ground at 90 degrees and place it across your chest, palm facing up. Using your other hand, gently pull the bent elbow away from the body until you feel a stretch in your shoulder area. Hold for 20-30 seconds, and then switch sides.

Parallel Arm Wall Slide

Stand facing a wall, with arms spread out wide at shoulder height. Slowly slide them down towards your waist while keeping them parallel to each other until you feel a stretch in your shoulder blades. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then release.

Doorway Stretch

Stand in a doorway and place your arms on the doorframe at shoulder height. Lean forward, feeling a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then release.

Common Mistake to Avoid While Stretching the Supraspinatus Muscle

Stretching the supraspinatus muscle is important in taking care of your shoulders. However, common mistakes can be made to cause further harm.

  • One such mistake to avoid is ballistic stretching, which involves bouncing with force during a stretch. Ballistic stretching does not allow for gradual tension release and can create fluctuations in pressure on the muscle tissue, which may lead to internal damage.
  • Furthermore, it would help if you never overstretched, as doing so can damage ligaments and muscles and increase overall joint instability.
  • Prior knowledge about shoulder mechanics helps one gain greater insight into what stretches would be beneficial without being detrimental to one’s health.

Therefore, it is essential that if you plan on stretching your supraspinatus muscle, you consult a qualified professional who specializes in helping people with shoulder pain to ensure that it will be a safe and productive experience.

How Often Should You Stretch the Supraspinatus Muscle?

How often one should stretch the supraspinatus muscle will depend on individual shoulder use and the type of activity involved.

  • For those with high physical activity or frequent overhead activities, stretching this muscle should be done at least daily. Stretching helps keep muscles elastic and increases the range of motion to avoid overexertion or injury. Frequent stretching can also have a positive benefit by helping to reduce muscular tension that can lead to joint stiffness or pain.
  • For individuals with low levels of physical activity, stretching the muscle at least twice a week is recommended. This ensures continued elasticity of the muscle and allows for a better range of motion.

It is best to discuss the frequency and types of stretches with a physician trained in sports medicine to determine specific needs for each situation.


Keeping the Supraspinatus muscle flexible and strong should never be underestimated. This muscle is essential in shoulder mobility, stability, and strength. Regular stretching can help reduce the risk of developing any shoulder pain or injuries. When stretching this muscle, it is important to find the right balance between avoiding overstretching and getting a good stretch.

It is also important to consult a qualified professional for assistance in finding the right stretches and frequency best suited for your individual needs. By incorporating stretching into your regular exercise routine, you can ensure that your Supraspinatus muscle stays healthy and pain-free.