12 Exercises And Stretches For Frozen Shoulder

Unlock your shoulders, boost your mobility, and relieve your strain effortlessly.

Reviewed by Sabrina Rahman, Certified Fitness Trainer
By Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

“Exercises and stretches for frozen shoulder work effectively for rehabilitating adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder). This inflammatory condition affects shoulder strength and range of motion (1). “It is an inflammatory response that affects the soft tissues and the 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.”

It is crucial to diagnose a frozen shoulder early. Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy for safe and fast recovery (2). Make sure you get professional help to do these exercises and to avoid causing pain. Take approval from your doctor before doing these 12 exercises and stretches for frozen shoulder. Let’s begin!

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.
StyleCraze Says
You can also practice this exercise as you are sitting and working. Sit on a chair with your legs folded. Place your forearm on the wall as instructed above. Turn your upper body in the direction opposite to your arm. Keep your back and shoulders straight. Do not push yourself too far. Twist only as much as you can.

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. Ensure you do this exercise with a resistance band.

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.
StyleCraze Says
Feel like this exercise is too easy? Try an advanced version of it. When you move the affected arm out and up, twist your torso to look backward. Extend the affected arm as far as it will go without pushing it too much.

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.

Exercises and stretches for frozen shoulder offer promising results by increasing your shoulder strength and range of motion. Doctors usually recommend the exercises and medications listed above for this inflammatory condition, which is commonly seen in aging individuals and those with diabetes and hyperthyroidism. But do not overdo these exercises. Always start with a few sets and gradually increase the number. Stop doing any particular exercise that causes a sharp pain in your shoulder. Consult a physiotherapist to understand your form better while doing these exercises. Finally, if you are consistent in your efforts, it may take at least 3-9 months to witness positive results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you sleep comfortably with a frozen shoulder?

Avoid sleeping on your affected shoulder. Instead, place a pillow underneath the arm and rest your hand on the stomach.

Is walking good for frozen shoulders?

Resting is of utmost importance in treating frozen shoulders. It is better to avoid walking until the discomfort subsides.

Key Takeaways

  • Adhesive capsulitis, often known as frozen shoulder, causes pain and limits shoulder motion.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, rest, cold packs, and sufficient physical therapy exercises can help control this painful inflammatory condition.
  • However, do not overdo any of the exercises, and if you experience a sharp discomfort while performing any range of motion, stop immediately.

References:

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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author
Charushila is an ISSA certified Fitness Nutritionist and a Physical Exercise Therapist. Over a span of 5 years, she has... more

Sabrina Rahman

(Certified Fitness Trainer)
Sabrina Rahman is a certified fitness trainer. She coaches 200 clients every month and trains thousands of women all over... more

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