12 Frozen Shoulder Stretches And Exercises For Fast Recovery

Written by Charushila Biswas , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is an inflammatory condition that affects shoulder mobility and strength (1). “It is an inflammatory response that affects the soft tissues, and thickness and rigidity of the surrounding capsule,” says board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jerome Enad, MD. He adds, “Age and other factors make a few people more prone to frozen shoulder. For example, women aged 40-60 years or people with diabetes and hypothyroidism may develop frozen shoulders.”

Early diagnosis and treatment with anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy are crucial for fast recovery (2). However, all exercises must be done within the pain-free range of movement. Seek your doctor’s approval and do these 12 exercises and stretches for frozen shoulder to improve strength and mobility. Scroll down to learn more.

12 Exercises And Stretches For Frozen Shoulder

1. Anterior Shoulder Stretch

Level: Beginner to intermediate

How To Do

  • Stand facing a wall.
  • Place the affected hand on the wall with the upper arm at 90 degrees with the forearm and palm flat on the wall.
  • Slowly twist your body in the opposite direction of your arm. If your right arm is affected, twist to your left and vice versa.
  • Twist as far as you can. Do not push yourself too much.
  • Pause for a moment and come back to the starting position.

2. Pendular Exercise

Level: Beginner to intermediate

How To Do

  • Place the unaffected elbow on the backrest of a chair.
  • Bend forward from your waist, and extend your affected arm as shown in the image.
  • Move the affected arm to and fro, side to side, and in circular motions.
  • Move your body along the direction of motion to support your shoulder.
  • Do each movement 10 times.

3. Forward Stretch

Level: Beginner to advanced

How To Do

  • Place both your hands on a table.
  • Bend as low as possible.
  • Pause for a moment and get back up.
  • Do this 5-10 times.

4. Assisted External Rotation

Level: Beginner to advanced

How To Do

  • Place a rolled towel under the elbow of the affected hand.
  • Hold a walking stick with both hands.
  • Push the stick with the unaffected hand towards the affected side to move the forearm outwards. Keep the elbow of the affected hand close to the body.
  • Come back to the starting position.
  • Do this 10-12 times.

5. Scapular Squeeze

Level: Beginner

How To Do

  • Sit on a chair with your back straight.
  • Hold your elbows close to the body, move your shoulders back, and squeeze the shoulder blades to open the chest.
  • Slowly come back to the starting position.
  • Do this 10-12 times.

6. Pulley Stretches

Level: Intermediate to advanced

How To Do

  • Secure a pulley on the ceiling or a door. You may also use a resistance band for this exercise.
  • Hold the ends with both hands, with the affected arm slightly lower than the unaffected one.
  • Pull the pulley with your unaffected hand to raise the affected arm.
  • Pull as far as you can.
  • Pause for a moment and raise the unaffected arm slowly to lower the affected arm.
  • Do this 10-15 times.

7. Assisted Arm Raise

Level: Intermediate to advanced

How To Do

  • Sit on a mat comfortably.
  • Hold a walking stick firmly with the unaffected arm and rest the affected arm on it.
  • Raise your arms as high as possible.
  • Pause for a moment and slowly lower your hands.
  • Do this 10 times.

8. Therapy Band Rows

Level: Intermediate to advanced

How To Do

  • Sit on a chair comfortably.
  • Anchor a therapy band with your feet and hold the ends with both hands.
  • Keep the elbows close to your sides.
  • Pull the therapy band. Keep your elbows up and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Pause for a moment and go back to the starting position slowly.
  • Do this 10-15 times.

9. Shoulder Abduction

Level: Beginner to advanced

How To Do

  • Sit on a mat.
  • Hold a walking stick and place the affected arm on its head.
  • Push with the unaffected hand to move the affected arm out and up.
  • Go as far as you can and gently come back to the starting position.
  • Do this 10-15 times.

10. Shoulder Stretch

Level: Beginner to intermediate

How To Do

  • Place the back of your hand on your forehead.
  • Open your arms and gently push the elbows away.
  • Pause for a moment and release.
  • Do this 10 times.
  • You may also place your hands behind your head and do this exercise.

11. Shoulder Towel Stretch

Level: Intermediate to advanced

How To Do

  • Hold the diagonally opposite ends of a towel behind your back. The unaffected arm should go over your shoulder, and the affected arm under.
  • Pull the towel with your unaffected hand to raise the affected one.
  • Slowly, lower the unaffected arm.
  • Do this 10 times.

12. Swiss Ball Stretch

Level: Beginner to advanced

How To Do

  • Sit on a mat with folded legs, as shown in the picture.
  • Place a Swiss ball in front of you.
  • Place your affected arm on it and bend the elbow slightly.
  • Roll the ball forward, bend your upper torso, and stretch the affected arm.
  • Go as far as you can.
  • Pause for a moment and come back to the starting position.
  • Do this 10-12 times.

These are the 12 exercises and stretches you can do to improve a frozen shoulder. Remember, it will take at least 3-9 months (or more) to restore strength and mobility to the joint capsule.

To Conclude

A frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis causes pain and reduces shoulder mobility. However, this painful inflammatory condition can be managed with anti-inflammatory medications and rest, applying cold packs, and adequate physical therapy exercises. Talk to your doctor before you start physical therapy. Also, do not overdo any of the exercises. Be patient and start with fewer sets and reps. Stop if you feel a sharp pain while doing any range of motion. Listen to your body, and your shoulder will start getting better.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Frozen Shoulder
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482162/
  2. A Comprehensive View of Frozen Shoulder: A Mystery Syndrome
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2021.663703/full

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