Exercises for a Frozen Shoulder That Are Safe and Easy

Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, is an inflammation that results from injuries. The pathogenesis, which is the study of how a disease develops and progresses, of adhesive capsulitis is multi-factorial. People with diabetes or chronic arthritis are more likely to experience frozen shoulders, which can affect one or both shoulders simultaneously.

A frozen shoulder is more likely to develop in people whose shoulders are immobilized for a prolonged period of time, due to an injury or surgery. Many people who have had a mastectomy or open-heart surgery develop frozen shoulders at some point down the line. Although the cause of a frozen shoulder may differ, the treatment is always effective.

How Does Frozen Shoulder Occur?
Consider the accordion. When the accordion is reduced in size, it has a large number of folds. Similarly, when your shoulder joint is at your side and down, all of the connective tissue on the underside of your shoulder joint folds up.

A frozen shoulder is when the tissues surrounding the shoulder joint freeze and stiffen, which leads to intense pain and a narrower range of motion.

Different Phases of Frozen Shoulder
There are three stages to a frozen shoulder.

  1. Freezing, painful stage: The shoulder joint is stiff and painful.
  2. Frozen, adhesive stage: The condition has improved, causing little to no pain. However, the shoulder joint is still very stiff.
  3. Thawing stage: The joint slowly begins to loosen, the pain subsides, and the range of motion increases.

The duration of each stage is several months. If conservative therapy fails, a shoulder operation known as manipulation is necessary.

Ways to Find Relief from the Comfort of Your Home
Exercises that stretch the shoulder's range of motion are beneficial. However, before performing any such exercise, you must always warm up the joint.

To do this, follow these steps using moist heat:

  1. Place a damp towel in the microwave for 7–8 minutes on high. The moist towel will be EXTREMELY HOT; use a potholder to handle it.
  2. To keep the hot wet towel warm, place it in a plastic bag and then cover the top of the bag with another dry towel. Finally, wrap another dry towel around the entire thing to ensure heat doesn't escape.
  3. Use this warm compress on your shoulder for 10 to 15 minutes. You can put another layer of the towel over your shoulder if the compress is too hot so you don't burn yourself.

The exercises below will help improve the range of motion and function in your shoulder joint. Be sure to warm up your shoulder before beginning the exercises.

Helpful Exercises for Frozen Shoulder
When doing the exercise, stretch to the point that you feel a strong stretching sensation in the shoulder but no pain.

1. Pendulum Stretch

  • Stand up straight and relax your shoulders.
  • Tilt your body forward slightly and let your arm hang down.
  • To start, swing your arm around in a small circle ten times clockwise.
  • Then move the arm counterclockwise ten times.
  • Start by doing this exercise once a day, and then increase the reps as you feel comfortable.

Tips to keep in mind:
When doing pendulum exercises, move your body so that your arm has plenty of room to swing. Do not actively move the arm that is affected by the condition.

The arm is required to rotate clockwise and counterclockwise, but it may also be moved front to back, side to side rather than just in circles.

2. Finger Walk

  • Make sure to stand arm's length away from the wall before you begin.
  • Touch the wall with one arm, keeping your arm bent at waist level, and slowly extend out your fingertips.
  • Gently move your fingers up the wall until you can't reach any higher without straining.
  • Walk your fingers back down the wall until you reach the starting position.
  • Repeat the motion 10-20 times.
  • Repeat this process with the other arm 10-20 times.

RangeMaster Portable Over-The-Door Shoulder Finger Ladder

Tips to keep in mind:
As you work your way up the wall, try to go a little bit farther with each repetition.

For this workout, stand with your body next to the wall at a 90° angle. This way, when you walk your fingers up the wall, your arm will be reaching out to the side rather than just facing the front.

3. Cross-Body Arm Stretch

  • Choose a position that is comfortable for you, whether sitting or standing.
  • To raise your left arm, use the strength of your right hand.
  • Slowly raise your arm across your body as high as you can go without pain, applying gentle pressure to stretch the shoulder.
  • Maintain this position for 15-20 seconds.
  • Relax and repeat this process 10-20 more times.
  • Repeat the process on the other arm.

4. Arm Circles

  • Sit upright on a flat surface, keeping your back straight.
  • Place your right hand on your shoulder.
  • Make small circles in the air, both clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Repeat the process on the other side.
  • This is a very simple exercise that you can do 2-3 times a day.

5. Towel Stretch

  • Use a towel of about 3 feet long.
  • Stand straight and hold one end of the towel with your hand.
  • Slowly, bring the towel behind your back and grab the opposite end with your other hand.
  • To stretch your shoulder, pull one end of the towel upward with one hand while pulling the bottom of the towel downward with the other hand.
  • Do this 10-20 times daily.

RangeMaster Stretch Strap with Exercise Guide

Tips to keep in mind:
The good arm should grab the top of the towel, while the painful arm should grip the bottom. Pull upward as much as possible with your top arm.

6. Armpit Stretch

  • Place yourself in front of a shelf that comes up to your chest.
  • Place your right arm in the position.
  • Bend your knees slightly to open up the armpit, and stretch the armpit as much as you can without causing pain.
  • Straighten out and relax the armpit.
  • Try bending a little bit more deeply each time, up to 20 times daily.

7. Back Clasp

  • Open your legs wide and stand up straight.
  • Slowly lift your hands and bring them behind your head.
  • Place your hands behind your back, locking your fingers together.
  • Slowly raise your arms over your head, keeping them stable the entire time.
  • At the point of most tension, stop and remain in this position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat this process 2-4 times each day.

8. Abduction With Stick

Sets: 10 Reps: 10 Hold: 5 seconds

  1. To start, lie on your back with bent knees and grab the stick at each end with both hands.
  2. Slowly lift the injured arm away from your body, and increase your mobility by pushing the stick with the healthy arm.
  3. Push the arm up as high as you can.
  4. Keep your arm in the same position, then lower it and do the movement again.

RangeMaster ShoulderWand Therapy Stretching Tool

9. Assisted Shoulder Flexion

Sets: 10 Reps: 10 Hold: 5 seconds

  1. Secure the stick with both hands, then lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. While keeping your shoulder blades together, carefully pull the stick over the head as far as you can with your good arm.
  3. Maintain posture and relax.
  4. The good arm should do most of the work while the affected arm simply goes along.

What Worsens Frozen Shoulder?
The worst thing you can do if you have a frozen shoulder is to avoid moving the arm because it hurts. Keeping your shoulder active will help avoid it from freezing up. The objective is to bring the joint back to its previous level of range of motion and flexibility by repeating the process on a regular basis.

Final Word
Frozen shoulders can be treated with a number of different exercises. The basic idea is to stretch out the shoulder muscles to relieve discomfort and increase the range of motion. The safest way to treat a shoulder condition may be through repeated gentle stretching in any direction.

A frozen shoulder usually gets better after a period of deterioration. Recovery, on the other hand, could take up to two years. You might also utilize physical therapy to assist with the healing process.