14 Exercises And Stretches For Frozen Shoulder

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

Reviewed by Sabrina Rahman, Certified Fitness Trainer Sabrina Rahman Sabrina RahmanCertified Fitness Trainer facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Sindhu Koganti BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
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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). Joanna, a blogger, while describing her condition, posted about the extreme pain and discomfort she experiences due to frozen shoulders. She says, “It is disabling, agonizing, distressing both mentally and physically, immobilizing, exhausting, draining, overwhelming and frightening, and when you’re in the middle of it, you wonder if you’ll ever get your life back.” Joanna states in a later update of the post that though she is still dealing with the shoulder pain, over the years, it’s certainly gotten better, “…I think the body will resolve it when the body is ready – it may take time, but I suppose like any injury with swelling inside, the body has to do what it has to do, and let nature take its course. I would do the basic exercises, go for massage to keep the blood flowing in the muscular areas…(i).

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 shoulder rehabilitation exercises and to avoid causing pain. Take approval from your doctor before doing these 14 exercises and stretches for frozen shoulders. Let’s begin!

protip_icon Workout Blueprint: Exercises And Stretches For Frozen Shoulder
  • Frequency: Daily or as advised by the doctor.
  • Benefits: Improves shoulder strength and range of motion and reduces discomfort
  • Equipment Needed: Resistance or therapy band, Swiss ball, walking stick, and a towel
  • Space Required: Small area
  • Assistance Required: Yes, to correct the posture.
  • Who Should Avoid: Anyone with a shoulder injury or has not consulted a physiotherapist should refrain from engaging in these exercises.

14 Exercises And Stretches For Frozen Shoulder

1. Anterior Shoulder Stretch

Anterior shoulder stretch exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @nhsayrshirearran3254

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 to relieve the shoulder stiffness. Do not push yourself too much.
  • Pause for a moment and come back to the starting position.


protip_icon Quick Tip
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

Pendular exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @nhsayrshirearran3254

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

Forward stretch exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @bess-upper-limbs

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

Assisted external rotation exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @bess-upper-limbs

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

Scapular squeeze exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @AskDoctorJo

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

Pulley stretch exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @AskDoctorJo

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

Assisted arm raise exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @AskDoctorJo

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

Therapy band row exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @AskDoctorJo

Level: Intermediate to advanced

How To Do

  • Sit on a chair comfortably.
  • Anchor a shoulder 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

Shoulder abduction exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @AskDoctorJo

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 shoulder workout 10-15 times.
protip_icon Quick Tip
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

Shoulder stretch exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @bess-upper-limbs

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 to relax your shoulder muscles.

11. Shoulder Towel Stretch

Shoulder towel stretch exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @AskDoctorJo

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

Swiss ball stretch exercise for frozen shoulder
Image: YouTube @AskDoctorJo

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.

13. Wand Exercise

Level: Beginner to advanced

How To Do

  • Stand as you grasp the wand behind your back.
  • Ensure your palms are facing upward.
  • Gradually lift the wand upward.
  • Pause for 1-2 seconds.
  • Repeat this movement 10-20 times or until you feel fatigued.

14. Bicep Stretch

Level: Beginner to advanced

How To Do

  • Sit on an exercise mat with your head, neck, and spine in a straight line.
  • Bend your knees and keep your feet on the floor, hip-width apart.
  • Position your palms on the floor behind you, fingers pointing away from your body.
  • Distribute your weight evenly among your feet, buttocks, and arms.
  • While keeping your hands in place, exhale and gently slide your buttocks forward towards your feet until you feel the stretch in your biceps.
  • Hold the stretch for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this stretch for 4-5 times.

These are the 14 exercises and stretches you can do to improve a frozen shoulder by helping your rotator cuffs. Remember, it will take at least 3-9 months (or more) to restore strength and shoulder mobility to your shoulder joint capsule.

Infographic: 5 Rehabilitation Exercises To Fix A Frozen Shoulder

While medications alleviate the pain that comes with a frozen shoulder, physical therapy treats the issue from the root. Read the infographic below to learn about the top exercises and stretches that will offer you relief from the frozen shoulder. Remember to consult your physiotherapist before trying these out. Scroll down to read more!

5 rehabilitation exercises to fix a frozen shoulder (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Exercises and stretches for frozen shoulders 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 sharp shoulder pain. 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.

Learn about the best exercises and stretches to relieve your frozen shoulder pain in this video. Here are some tips on how to perform them correctly and safely. Go, check it out!

Personal Experience: Source

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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Sabrina Rahman

Sabrina RahmanCertified Fitness Trainer

Sabrina Rahman is a certified fitness trainer. She coaches 200 clients every month and trains thousands of women all over the world online, face to face to help them stay healthy and lose weight. She focuses on body weight, resistance, and HIIT training, which require minimal equipment and can be done from anywhere
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