Frozen shoulder syndrome (also known as adhesive capsulitis) is a condition in which the shoulder joint becomes stiff and painful, and motion is limited. Symptoms usually begin slowly and worsen over time. In most cases, however, symptoms resolve within 1-3 years. Those most at risk of developing frozen shoulder include women recovering from a mastectomy or people who have had a stroke. Medical conditions or procedures that restrict arm movement may also increase the risk.
Fortunately, frozen shoulder can be treated with a variety of exercises performed at home, and can be a great intermediate help when deciding if frozen shoulder surgery is necessary.. These exercises are designed to loosen the joint capsule so that it can move more freely.
Exercises For Frozen Shoulder
Before beginning a stretching exercise, be sure to warm up the shoulder muscles by taking a warm shower or bath for 10-15 minutes. A heat pad or hot water bottle may also help.
– Note: When performing shoulder exercises, only stretch to the point of tension – not pain.
- Pendulum stretch:
This is the best exercise to start on. Relax your shoulders and stand with your affected arm hanging down. Swing this arm in a small circle about a foot wide. Do this 10x per day, in each direction. You may be able to increase the size of the swing – but don’t force the movement. As your mobility returns, you can try holding a small weight in the arm as you swing.
- Towel stretch
Use a towel about 3 feet long. Place the towel behind your back and hold the opposite end with your other hand. Holding the towel horizontally, pull your ‘bad’ arm upwards with your good arm. Allow a gentle stretch. Repeat 10-20x a day.
When your shoulder improves, advance this exercise by draping the towel over yru shoulder and holding the bottom with the affected arm. Pull the towel towards your lower back with the good arm.
- Finger walk
Stand ¾ of an arm’s length facing a wall. Reach out with your affected arm and touch the wall from waist height. Keeping your elbow slightly bent, walk your fingers slowly up the until your arm is as high as it can be without discomfort. Allow your fingers to do the work, not your shoulder muscles. You can then lower your arm slowly. Repeat 10-20x a day.
- Cross-body reach
This can be done sitting or standing. With your good arm, lift your bad arm by the elbow. Bring the arm up and across your body, allowing a gentle stretch in the affected shoulder. Hold this stretch for 15-20 seconds. Repeat 10-20x per day.
- Armpit stretch
With your unaffected arm, lift your bad arm onto a shelf sitting near chest height. Carefully bend your knees so that your armpit opens up. Allow your knee bend to deepen slightly and gently stretch the armpit before straightening again. Try to stretch each knee bend a little further each time, but don’t force it. Repeat 10-20x per day.
Improving The Strength Of Your Frozen Shoulder
As your shoulder movement improves, you can begin to add exercises that strengthen the shoulder. Remember to always warm up in advance and continue performing daily stretching exercises first.
If you’re experiencing pain from a frozen shoulder or something similar, like pain from shoulder dislocation, contact us today!