7 Frozen Shoulder Exercises That Actually Work

Woman with shoulder pain isolate on white background
(Last Updated On: November 25, 2016)

Frozen shoulder also called adhesive capsulitis of shoulder is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. When it is frozen shoulder, one might feel pain in the shoulder and experience decreased range of motion of shoulder or muscle spasms. Joint stiffness is also common in frozen shoulder. This article brings to you exercises that are helpful to recover from frozen shoulder.

1) Codman Pendulum Exercise

Codman Pendulum Exercise

Position of patient: Supporting the body by the unaffected shoulder and the affected shoulder in free hanging position.

Procedure: Move your arm gently by swinging it. Start with movements forward and back, then side to side, and finally in small circles. Initial movements should be about 15 degrees from vertical but as you loosen up, let the movement go out to 30 degrees.

2) Towel stretch

Towel stretch

Position of patient: Hold one end of a three-foot-long towel behind your back and grab the opposite end with your other hand. Hold the towel in a horizontal position.

Procedure: Use the good arm to pull the affected arm upward to stretch it

3) Finger walk

Finger walk

Position of patient: Standing facing towards the wall with straight elbow for shoulder flexion and wall facing lateral side of affected shoulder for abduction.

Procedure: Slowly walk your fingers up the wall, spider-like, until you’ve raised your arm as far as you comfortably can. Your fingers should be doing the work, not your shoulder muscles. Slowly lower the arm (with the help of the good arm, if necessary) and repeat. Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times a day.

4) Cross-body reach

Cross-body reach

Position of patient: Sit or stand.

Procedure: Use your good arm to lift your affected arm at the elbow, and bring it up and across your body, exerting gentle pressure to stretch the shoulder. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Do this for 10 reps.

5) Armpit stretch

Armpit stretch

Position of patient: Lift the affected arm onto a shelf about chest-high.

Procedure: Gently bend your knees, opening up the armpit. Deepen your knee bend slightly, gently stretching the armpit, and then straighten. With each knee bend, stretch a little further, but don’t force it. Do this 10 to 20 times each day.

As your range of motion improves, add rotator cuff–strengthening exercises. Be sure to warm up your shoulder and do your stretching exercises before you perform strengthening exercises.

6) Outward rotation

Outward rotation

Position of patient: Hold a theraband between your hands with your elbows at a 90-degree angle close to your sides. Looking for a theraband, get it from Portea. Click here.

Procedure: Rotate the lower part of the affected arm outward two or three inches and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 to 15 times, once a day.

7) Inward rotation

Inward rotation

Position of patient: Stand next to a closed door, and hook one end of a theraband around the doorknob. Hold the other end with the hand of the affected arm, holding your elbow at a 90 degree angle.

Procedure: Pull the theraband by the affected arm towards your body.

These are simple exercises that one can do at home to recover from frozen shoulder. It is always advised to consult a physiotherapist for frozen shoulder before attempting exercises on one’s own. If you are looking for physiotherapy at home, get it from Portea. You can now download the Portea app and book physiotherapy appointment on the go.

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Dr. Aniruddh Bairwa holds a degree in Bachelor of Physiotherapy from Institute for physically handicapped, Delhi University. He has expertise in pain relieving techniques. Besides working as a therapist, he is a trained choreographer and a beatboxer.


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