It has been documented that changes in rotator cuff stiffness are associated with the ROM deficits in pitchers, so players and coaches are looking for effective ways to improve shoulder ROM. Massage therapy or self massage is one of those ways, here is a paper that demonstrates the effects of 4 weeks of soft tissue mobilization on tissue stiffness and on shoulder internal rotation and horizontal adduction in baseball players with posterior shoulder tightness.
From The Abstract
The cross-body stretch and sleeper stretch are widely used for improving flexibility of the posterior shoulder. These stretching methods were modified by Wilk. However, few quantitative data are available on the new, modified stretching methods. A recent study reported the immediate effects of stretching and soft tissue mobilization on the shoulder range of motion (ROM) and muscle stiffness in subjects with posterior shoulder tightness. However, the long-term effect of stretching for muscle stiffness is unknown. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of 2 stretching methods, the modified cross-body stretch (MCS) and the modified sleeper stretch (MSS), on shoulder ROM and muscle stiffness in baseball players with posterior shoulder tightness.
Twenty-four college baseball players with ROM limitations in shoulder internal rotation were randomly assigned to the MCS or MSS group. We measured shoulder internal rotation and horizontal adduction ROM and assessed posterior shoulder muscle stiffness with ultrasonic shear wave elastography before and after a 4-week intervention. Subjects were asked to perform 3 repetitions of the stretching exercises every day, for 30 seconds, with their dominant shoulder.
In both groups, shoulder internal rotation and horizontal adduction ROM were significantly increased after the 4-week intervention. Muscle stiffness of the teres minor decreased in the MCS group, and that of the infraspinatus decreased in the MSS group.
The MCS and MSS are effective for increasing shoulder internal rotation and horizontal adduction ROM and decreasing muscle stiffness of the infraspinatus or teres minor.
Yamauchi, T., Hasegawa, S., Nakamura, M., Nishishita, S., Yanase, K., Fujita, K., . . . Ichihashi, N. (2016). Effects of two stretching methods on shoulder range of motion and muscle stiffness in baseball players with posterior shoulder tightness: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.