Compression stretching is a form of exercise therapy that combines pressure and massage techniques with assisted manipulated stretches. This particular technique is frequently used by physical therapists and massage therapists, to enhance joint range of motion and warm up muscle tissue as a kind of pre-stretch. Compression stretches for the shoulder joint involve various arm positions while the therapist applies pressure in specific areas to ligaments and muscles.
Supine Side Shoulder Stretch
Igor Fooks, LMBT, in Charlotte, North Carolina regularly uses compression stretching techniques on his clients, especially those who request a deep tissue or sports massage modality of treatment. The first stretch is performed while you are lying on your back. According to Fooks, the therapist places one hand underneath the shoulder blade and applies compression into the muscle head, while he grasps your wrist and stretches your arm straight out to the side, with your palm facing up. At this point, he may use a circular massage motion with the compression, while he intensifies the stretch and moves the arm in a small range of motion.
Supine Overhead Shoulder Stretch
This particular stretch is helpful to increase range of motion of the shoulder joint, as well as to warm up the rear deltoid and upper back muscles, preparing them for deeper tissue massage. Your therapist or assistant applies compression behind the shoulder, in and around the scapula or shoulder blade. As in the first stretch, he will grasp your wrist and stretch your arm, this time stretching your arm up and over your head. Depending on the tightness of the area, your therapist may stretch and massage for a few seconds, rest the arm and then attempt to re-stretch to increase the elasticity of the soft tissue.
Prone Scapula Stretch
This stretch is done from the face-down position and is used to restore scapular motion and to help stabilize the muscles of the shoulder girdle. Your therapist will apply compression with one hand around the shoulder blade, massaging the soft tissue that lines your scapula, as he stretches your arm out to the side, away from your body. This stretch may be held for several seconds while your therapist gently manipulates the arm, increasing the stretch and moving it in a small range of motion.