Please note that these stretches are intended to be used with professional advice from your osteopath. Using them on your own may result in your symptoms getting worse or causing further damage to the affected area. Use them at your own risk. Do keep in mind that there are more factors than just muscles which are involved with most spinal or joint problems - hence stretches cannot fix all painful issues on their own - but they are very useful for the maintenance of mobility and taking the load off joints. You are quite welcome to ask us questions about the stretches presented here, or give us suggestions for new additions.

General Instructions:

Stretches will vary according to the desired result on the muscle or tissue you would like to stretch. Most of the stretches presented here are intended for osteopathic patients attempting to recover from a particular issue. Hence the emphasis is towards a single muscle or group of muscles rather than producing complex regional stretching movements. In order to produce a 'retraining' effect on the muscles it is recommended to hold these stretches for about 30 seconds each. You only need to do them once in one sitting, but they do need to be repeated several times a day for optimum results. Changes should be seen within the first week and then gradually continue. If you want to produce a change in the passive length of the muscle it is recommended to hold them for at least 60 seconds. Similarly only one repetition is needed, but these are best done right after exercise and in general wouldn't need to be done more than twice a day. The changes in the passive elements of muscles will take much longer and will be very incremental.
In the photos below the green arrows always represent the area where you should expect to feel the stretch and the red arrows represent the direction in which movement is made.

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Outside Shoulder Stretch (5)

  1. Put your hand over your shoulder and onto the base of your neck.

  2. Use your opposite hand to hold onto your forearm.

  3. Sidebend your upper body away from the side you are stretching.

  4. You should feel a stretch on the outer side of your shoulder blade and slightly down the back of your arm.
Outside Shoulder Stretch Two (6)

1. Place your fist onto your hip and keep your wrist straight.

2. Reach across your chest with your other arm and grip the elbow of the side being stretched. Keep the shoulder on the side which is stretching relaxed down. Pull your elbow of the side being stretched across your body with the opposite arm.

3. You should feel a stretching sensation on the outside of your shoulder blade and shoulder. There should be no discomfort on the top or front of your shoulder. If there is - try a different variation of this stretch.
Outside Shoulder Stretch Three (Prayer Stretch) (7)

1. Place both elbows roughly shoulder width apart on a solid surface.
2. Drop down through your shoulder while leaving your elbows where they are and slightly allow your upper body to move backwards.
3. Make sure not to hunch your mid back and make sure not to drop your arms too far down / forward.
Trap. Stretch (8)

1. Sitting upright on a chair, grip the mid-point of the side of the chair on the side you would like to stretch.
2. Sidebend your head away from the side on which you are holding the chair. Take care not to turn your head.
3. Drop your head forward towards your chest.
4. You should feel the stretch along the side of the neck, top of the shoulder and down towards your shoulder blade.
5. If you would like to make the stretch stronger, you can reach across with your opposite hand onto the side of your head and provide a very gentle additional pressure. This is only in case you feel little or no stretch using the previous steps.
Mid Back Stretch (9)

1. Cross your legs over and leave a small gap between them - this will allow you to aim the stretch to the lower end of your shoulder / mid back.
2. Or you can cross your legs over without leaving a gap between them. This will target the upper part of your mid back / shoulder.
3. Place the elbow of the opposite arm behind your knee and push the elbow firmly against the knee. If you chose step 1, try to sit upright while doing this part of the stretch. If you chose step 2, try to hunch over your knee a little more while doing this part of the stretch.
4. You should feel the stretch next to your shoulder blade if you chose step 1, or you should feel it just below it if you chose step 2. You may also feel a light stretch in the hip area of your top leg. In this case go to our hip stretch section. It's also important to turn your head along with your body comfortably as otherwise you will feel a strain in your neck.

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