glenohumeral joint

The Sleeper Stretch

Why we do the sleeper stretch and how to do it correctly:


WHO is this stretch for:

This stretch is for those folks with shoulder pain or tight shoulders. In fact, if you have pain in the front of the shoulder, it usually does not help to stretch the front of the shoulder, but the sleeper stretch can, in fact, help. PLEASE NOTE: This stretch is not for those with hypermobile (over-flexible) shoulders, history of dislocation or those who have pain with this particular stretch.


WHAT is it stretching:

This stretches the posterior capsule of the glenohumeral joint as well as the shoulder muscles on the backside of the shoulder: 

WHEN should you perform it:

You can do this stretch before or after a WOD or really any time.  Perhaps in bed before you fall asleep!


WHERE should you feel the stretch:

You want to feel this in the back of the shoulder or arm.  If you feel it in the front of the shoulder you are either out of position or you should think about doing a different stretch. 


WHY is this stretch important:

Because we sit a lot in this country and often are spending many hours a day on computers or devices, we tend to be very forward in our shoulders and hips.  This can lead to pain, tightness and dysfunction in the gym. However, the structure in the shoulder that is often tight, is the BACKSIDE of the capsule. This can make things like pull-ups and overhead lifts very difficult because the ball of the shoulder cannot center into the socket very well. Adding this mobility drill (or perfecting your technique with it when we instruct it in class) can help with many shoulder issues that we encounter in the gym.


HOW to perform the stretch:

  • lie on your side with your body stacked onto the arm you are stretching

  • the stretching arm is flexed to 90 degrees so that the elbow is combing out perpendicular to your trunk

  • the elbow is bent 90 degrees

  • using the arm as a torque lever, gently press the forearm to the floor maintaining:

1) the 90 degree position of the elbow and

2) the body weight over the shoulder joint

  • hold for 60 sec in a comfortable stretch

Contact Arrow PT at for more information.