Frozen shoulder exercises for pain relief

Frozen Shoulder Exercises

A frozen shoulder, also referred to as adhesive capsulitis, results in lost range of motion, causing pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. In most cases, there is an inflammation on the capsule (loose bag) around your shoulder joints. The inflammation, muscle tightening and pain restricts movement on the shoulder joint.  

People with a frozen shoulder are advised to engage in physical therapy challenges that are challenging. While performing the exercises, stretch your muscles to the point of tension but not so far that it triggers pain. Here are our top six frozen shoulder exercises for pain relief and to help you regain mobility.

Pendulum stretch

The pendulum stretch affects the shoulder joint directly. Start by relaxing your shoulders and hang down the affected arm while standing. Swing the arm along a small circular path, ideally one foot in diameter. Start by performing 10 rotations in both directions every day. As your conditions improve, gradually increase the diameter. After a few weeks, you can increase the stretching effect by doing the exercise while holding a lightweight object.

Supine flexion

Lie down on a physical therapy table or any other flat surface with your legs straight. Relax your arms at the sides. While holding the injured arm using your healthy arm, lift it vertically in the air and back to the floor until a stretch is felt.

Towel stretch

Using both arms, hold the ends of a towel horizontally behind your back. Using your healthy arm, pull the injured arm upward to feel the stretching effect. You can also perform the vertical stretch version with a three-foot-long towel draped over your healthy shoulder. Using the affected arm, pull the towel toward your lower back. Repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times every day.

Cross-body reach

Use the healthy arm to lift the affected one at the elbow while standing or sitting. Raise it across your body to stretch the shoulder gently. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds. Remember the movement should always elicit a stretch but never trigger pain. The cross body stretch is best for people with moderate frozen shoulder. If your condition is severe, get in touch with a physical therapist to design a friendly recovery plan.

Standing extension

Stand and hold a light bar horizontally at your back. Your arms should be apart about shoulder width, placed in a position in which the knuckles face downward. Lift your arms up until you feel a stretch.  Make at least 10 counts, holding each repetition for one to five seconds.

Armpit stretch

Using your healthy arm, lift the injured arm onto a bench or shelf about chest-high. Bend your knees gently while opening up the armpit. Bend deeper to stretch the armpit further, and then straighten. Repeat this at least 10 times each day. You can also add a few rotator-cuff strengthening exercises as your range of movement improves.

Contact us if you need additional help

These exercises can stretch your frozen shoulder when done at least twice every day. It is normal to feel a stretching sensation while exercising. However, if the pain continues, reduce the exercises and see a physical therapist for assistance.

If you have a severe case of frozen shoulder, you can also benefit from alternative treatments such as the application of heat or electronic stimulation of the affected area. A physical therapist can also suggest other effective ways that will reduce tissue irritation and provide comfort.

Contact us today at our Battle CreekKalamazooMattawanPlainwell or Portage, Michigan clinics to schedule an initial appointment.