• Leah Buckbee, CMA, LMT

Shoulder Pain? HMMM Let's check the Supraspinatus!

The Supraspinatus is located along the top portion of the scapula (shoulder blade). The tendon that attaches this muscle comes through the hole that is made between the clavicle, the acromion, and the head of the humerus. It then attaches right onto the humerus on a bump of bone called the greater tubercle. It is prone to tearing causing what many of us already know as Rotator cuff tears. Of course there are many little ligaments and tendons in the shoulder that are part of the rotator area that can also become torn.

The Supraspinatus, allows us to raise our arms. Because the shoulder joint takes a beating as we age through life, it can become painful to move the shoulder let alone the arm. Sometimes it's because of small tears through out the shoulder, sometimes though, it is because the supraspinatus becomes inflamed, or also known as tendinitis. Exercises and stretches are essential to keep the shoulder from "freezing up" or becoming what is known as frozen shoulder syndrome. Utilizing massage therapy, ice, nsaids, (which are for inflammation), are just a few of the ways you can get that shoulder back to a happier place! Check out these few stretches that will help keep things moving right!!

How to Stretch Your Supraspinatus

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

By Emilia Benton

Updated November 20, 2019

Also Known As: Upper back muscle

Targets: Arms and shoulders

Equipment Needed Table, chair, towel

Level: Beginner

The supraspinatus is an upper back muscle that aids in shoulder abduction and stabilization. It’s also one of the four shoulder muscles that makes up the rotator cuff, helping to lift your arm away from the side of your body. Stretching this area is important for stabilizing the muscles surrounding the shoulders and upper back, improving posture, and reducing head and neck pain. The supraspinatus is a muscle that is also at high risk for injury, especially during strenuous repetitive activities such as swimming or painting areas of your house. If your supraspinatus lacks flexibility, you could be at increased risk for impingement syndrome, which is an overuse injury that can lead to tenderness, swelling and a limited range of motion, as well as shoulder pain.


Fortunately, stretching the supraspinatus can easily be done standing in a gym setting or at home. These moves are best performed after five to seven minutes of light cardio activity, such as brisk walking or jogging.


These moves, target the upper back and shoulder muscles known as the supraspinatus. As previously mentioned, it’s key for stabilizing these muscles, improving posture, and reducing head and neck pain, all of which can help you feel less stressed and, in turn, be more productive in your everyday life.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Pendulum Exercise

Stand adjacent to a bench, table, or another surface, placing your left hand lightly on top of it for support. Keeping your spine straight, lean forward from your waist. Let your right arm hang freely in front of you and relax your right arm and shoulder completely. Gently move your right arm forward and backward, back and forth from side to side, and around in a circle. Repeat with your left arm.

2. Single-side Stretch

Stand with your arms relaxed at your sides. Attempt to grasp your right wrist with your left hand behind your back. If you have difficulty and cannot reach it, toss a towel over your left shoulder and grasp that instead. Use your right hand to grab your wrist or the towel behind your back, while relaxing your neck and tilting your head to the left for added intensity. Continue holding your wrist the towel behind you from both ends and use your left hand to pull your wrist or the towel up your back, keeping your right shoulder relaxed. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat up to four times before switching sides.

3. Double Shoulder Stretch

Standing with a straight spine, stretch your right and left shoulders at the same time by placing your hands on your hips with your palms facing outward and your fingers pointing back. Press the backs of your hands against your hips and slowly move your elbows forward until you feel a bit of tension behind your shoulders. Hold for up to 30 seconds before returning your elbows to the original position and relaxing. Repeat up to four times.

4. Seated Stretch

Sit on a stable chair or bench with a firm surface. Bend your right elbow at a 90-degree angle, positioning the arm in front of you with the below lying across your lower rib cage. Send your left upper arm under your right upper arm and reach up with your left hand to grab your right thumb. Relax your right arm and shoulder, lightly pulling your right thumb toward the right, while rotating your right arm out. Hold for up to 30 seconds, relax briefly and repeat up to four times before switching to your other shoulder.

Common Mistakes

Be sure to breathe deeply and evenly while also relaxing your face, neck and shoulder muscles.

Modifications and Variations

If you struggle to reach your hands in the single-side stretch, modify by holding a towel.

Safety and Precautions

If you feel any pinching, numbness or pain while doing any of these stretches, stop and move out of the stretch you’re performing.


© 2019 by Breya Christian. Proudly created with Wix.com

Leah  Buckbee


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