How do you combine naps and the sport of Lacrosse to make your shoulders feel and move better? You don’t really. But doing a SLEEPER stretch with a LACROSSE ball pinned in your external rotators can work wonders for improving tissue quality and mobility.
In my last T-Nation article I included the sleeper stretch with a lacrosse ball as part of a pre-hab protocol for people that like to overhead press. I searched the web for a good video demonstration to post with the article but to no avail! So, I decided to shoot my own so all those that were interested could see it done properly.
Check out the video:
- Make sure that your shoulder blade is retracted and depressed throughout the stretch (pulled back and down).
- Find a “hot spot” in your external rotators and place the ball there. The spot could be close to your scapula, almost in your arm pit or close to your lat.
- Keep your spine aligned (especially your neck) as close to neutral as possible. That is why I am using the foam roller for support.
- Like Joe DeFranco teaches, count breaths and not seconds. A good place to start is holding it for 5 deep breaths on each side for a couple of sets. Stay relaxed!
- Remember that its a gentle stretch! Don’t torque the shit out of your arm and then wonder what happened when your shoulder hurts. Apply gentle pressure to internally rotate your arm.
- I find that having the arm angled about 45 degrees away from the body works best. Your shoulder is in a relatively safer position and you still can get a great stretch.
- Move slowly in an out of the stretch. Your shoulder is in relatively compromised position. Moving too quickly or carelessly could result in a strain.
If your glenohumeral joint is already excessively internally rotated at rest, then the sleeper stretch probably isn’t a great stretch for you. Use the pencil test to check your internal rotation. If you aren’t sure what the pencil test is, read about it here. However, you could still benefit from soft tissue work on your external rotators. So, get the lacrosse ball in there and stick on the “hot spots.”
Years of college football, powerlifting and scoliosis have left my shoulders beaten like a red-headed step child. But using this stretch has dramatically helped the way my shoulders move and feel.
Work this stretch in during your warm-up, as an auto-regulator if your rotators start to tighten up during a lifting session or after training and on off days to restore length and tissue quality. I’ll warn you, this stretch can feel extremely uncomfortable. But the almost immediate affect that you notice will be well worth it.