Exercises That Improve Frozen Shoulder Mobility

Exercises That Improve Frozen Shoulder Mobility

You use your shoulder in day-to-day activities more than you may realize. You reach up for spices on an overhead shelf. You reach back to put on a jacket or grab hold of your seatbelt. You go bowling with family or friends. If your shoulder is healthy, these activities are simple and performed without any thought. But if you have frozen shoulder, known as adhesive capsulitis, then these movements cause pain or may even be impossible to complete. 

Frozen shoulder is the temporary loss of the normal range of motion in the shoulder. When left untreated, it will continue to worsen and may lead to considerable disability. Frozen shoulder typically affects people over age 40, especially women. 

While it’s uncertain what causes frozen shoulder, it’s possibly related to an inflammatory issue within the shoulder. Sometimes it freezes up because it hasn’t been used in awhile due to illness, surgery, or pain, and other times it just occurs without a noticeable cause. 

In most cases, frozen shoulder can be treated through exercise, stretches, and self-care so that the patient experiences a complete recovery. Visit your chiropractor for an adjustment that will help loosen the muscles and joint and get customized exercises just for you. The exercises described in our article will get you started in relieving frozen shoulder stiffness and pain. 

Is It Good to Stretch a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder causes your shoulder to be stiff and painful with limited mobility in all directions. Thankfully, there are some frozen shoulder exercises that you can do to increase your mobility. 

When working out with the following frozen shoulder exercises, stretch to the point that you feel the stretch, but there is no pain. If you feel pain of any kind, stop immediately or try a less intense version of the stretch.

Warm Up Prior to Stretching

Before beginning, warm up your muscles. The best way to do this is by taking a hot shower or bath for ten to fifteen minutes prior to beginning. You can also try using a moist heating pad or damp towel heated in the microwave, but that’s usually not as effective. 

Pendulum Stretch for Frozen Shoulder

Start with a pendulum stretch, which loosens the muscles and joints of your shoulder and prepares it for other beneficial exercises.

  1. Start by standing and leaning over slightly, bracing yourself on a table or chair with your unaffected side. 
  2. Relax your shoulders and swing your affected arm in a small circle, about a foot in diameter.
  3. Swing your arm for ten revolutions going clockwise and then ten revolutions going counter-clockwise.

As your symptoms improve over time, you can increase the diameter of your swing, or add resistance by holding a light weight (around three to five pounds).

See how to perform this exercise here:  

Towel Stretch for Frozen Shoulder

This exercise has two versions: one to start and one to try once you’re feeling stronger. Perform this exercise ten to twenty times per day.

Beginner version:

  1. Hold one end of a towel that is a minimum of three-feet long behind your back and grab the opposite end with your other hand. The towel should be in a horizontal position.
  2. Use your good arm to gently pull your affected arm across your back into a stretch. Only pull as far as you can stretch without feeling pain and hold for ten seconds. 
  3. Allow the affected arm to relax back to its original position. Then repeat.

Advanced version:

  1. Place the towel over your good shoulder. 
  2. Then hold the bottom of the towel with your affected arm and use your good arm to pull the affected arm up the lower back as far as the stretch will allow. Hold for a minimum of ten seconds.
  3. Allow the affected arm to relax back to its original position, then repeat.

See both versions of this exercise here:  

Finger Walk Stretch for Frozen Shoulder

This simple stretch not only loosens and elongates the shoulder muscles, but also strengthens them for continued use throughout the day.

  1. Face a wall and stand about three-quarters of an arm’s length away.
  2. Touch the wall with the fingertips of the affected arm about waist high. 
  3. With your elbow slightly bent, “walk” your fingers up the wall until you’ve raised your arm as high as you comfortably can.
  4. Hold this position for the count of ten and then slowly lower the arm. You may need to use your good arm to help move your arm back to the starting position.
  5. Do this exercise ten to twenty times per day. 

To see this exercise, go to:  

How Your Chiropractor Can Help with Frozen Shoulder

Treatment for frozen shoulder involves relieving pain and restoring your shoulder’s range of motion. The main focus will be exercises that stretch the joint, pushing yourself just enough to restore motion without injuring yourself. VIsiting your chiropractor will help you learn exactly where that point is and your own body’s limitations.

A chiropractor can also help loosen the frozen shoulder with manipulation of your joints and muscles. They can help relieve inflammation, which can aggravate your symptoms and cause additional pain. Full recovery may take months and waiting for treatment can cause greater damage to your shoulder, so it’s best to start treatment with your chiropractor as soon as possible.  To find out more about frozen shoulder, including personalized stretches just for you, schedule a chiropractic appointment online or call us today.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.