In real life, getting your hand behind your back is a useful skill - whether to tuck in your trousers, do up a bra, or scratch an itch.
In therapy, getting your hand behind your back - or medial rotation to give it its technical name - is an essential part of getting full range of motion in the shoulder joint.
Working your shoulder through a full range of movement several times a day with exercises like hand behind back stretches the muscles and soft tissue in the area, and stops them becoming too stiff.
So how do you do it? Simple. Start with your arm straight down by your side. Slowly bend your arm at the elbow, and see how far up your back you can get your hand. Hold the position for five seconds while breathing slowly, then relax.
If you have very stiff shoulders, or are recovering from an injury or surgery, do ten of these several times a day to gradually improve your flexibilty.
This movement is actually a combination of three separate shoulder movements:
- Shoulder extension
- Medial rotation
- Shoulder adduction
If you find this particularly difficult it may be that improving the other two movements (extension and adduction) will help to improve the medial rotation.