Various stretching techniques have been proposed to prevent or improve Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit (GIRD) and Posterior Shoulder Tightness (PST). Cross-body stretch is one of the most common methods to address GIRD and PST. The current evidence is unclear with regards to the influences of glenohumeral rotational angle during cross-body stretch. This study aimed to compare the effects of cross-body stretch in neutral rotation and 90-degree External Rotation (ER).
This study was a crossover randomised controlled trial. 10 young healthy individuals (nine men and one woman, age 21.1 ± 0.3 years, body mass index 20.9 ± 1.8) with GIRD participated in this study. At two separate sessions, participants actively performed randomly assigned stretching techniques. Range of Motions (ROM) of dominant shoulder in Internal Rotation (IR) and Horizontal Adduction (HA) were assessed before and after stretching interventions. Stretching sensation and shoulder pain during stretches were also assessed using visual analogue scale after the interventions.
Only cross-body stretch in 90-degree ER led to significant immediate improvements in IR ROM (p < 0.05). There was no significant improvement in HA ROM after the two stretching interventions. There was no significant difference between the two intervention groups in terms of ROM changes. Cross-body stretch in neutral rotation provoked significantly more shoulder pain (p < 0.05).
Cross-body stretch in 90-degree ER might be more likely to be effective to improve IR ROM immediately among asymptomatic adults with GIRD with less chance of provoking shoulder pain. The findings also suggest that either form of cross-body stretch may not be effective to improve PST immediately. Further study with a larger sample size is required to achieve stronger evidence with better statistical precision and consider its clinical implication.