Home Blog Posterior Capsule Tightness: Subscapularis Dysfunction

Posterior Capsule Tightness: Subscapularis Dysfunction

Written on August 10, 2007 at 11:08 am, by Eric Cressey

I saw you write somewhere recently that subscapularis dysfunction was generally associated with posterior capsule tightness? Is there a causal relationship?

The subscapularis, infraspinatus, and teres minor work together to depress the humeral head during dynamic shoulder activities.

The subscapularis posteriorly pulls the humeral head in the joint (counteracts pectoralis major), while the other two anteriorly pull it (counteract posterior deltoid).

So, they’re antagonists and synergists at the same time.

If subscapularis shuts down, infraspinatus and teres minor fire overtime as depressors – but you don’t get subscapularis’ posterior humeral head pull. Tightness kicks in with the posterior capsule, and you can also get anterior humeral glide issues. This is a big no-no in overhead throwing, as they’ll look to the elbow to get range of motion – and that’s when you start to see ulnar collateral ligament ruptures, ulnar nerve compression, etc.

Eric Cressey


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2 Responses to “Posterior Capsule Tightness: Subscapularis Dysfunction”

  1. sidharth Says:

    perfect eric i completely get what you mean .. so if i am getting it right when you say ‘antagonists and synergists at the same time’ you mean antagonistic in the sense of direction (anterior pull vs posterior pull ) and synergistic in the sense of the pulling action. is that right?? byw your articles on t-nation and also this blog has helped me a lot in understanding shoulder work for overhead athlete and heal my 8 year old injury…what can i specifically do for a rehab work in terms of fast fibers of the shoulder ? would be great if you had address this or any thoughts u might have regarding this??

  2. Jonathan Says:

    Hi Eric, I had anterior labral shoulder surgery 4 months ago, and I have a very tight subscap. I get sharp pain when I do my external rotations, which is preventing my rehab progress.
    It’s driving me crazy because I want to start getting ready for my rugby season, and right now i feel like I’m miles away from doing that.
    Are there any exercises one can do at home to help with this?


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