Frozen shoulder happens when the tissues of your shoulder joint become thicker and tighter, and scar tissue develops. This reduces space within the shoulder joint which, in turn, limits movement and causes joint stiffness.
You can learn more about the causes and symptoms of frozen shoulder in my guide Shoulder Pain Relief here.
Treating a frozen shoulder requires a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises. These exercises should be gentle, progressive, and be done every day. If any of the exercises feel too hard right now, choose an easier one, and then come back to it when you feel you are ready. Expect some muscle and joint soreness, but if the pain is too much, speak to your doctor.
I’ve also shared a 5-minutes exercises routine for shoulder pain, you can find it here.
1. Pendulum swing
This exercise gently stretches and mobilizes your shoulder capsule and joint, especially the area at the back of your shoulder. It’s very passive and requires next to no effort so you should be able to do this one several times a day. You can do this exercise using just your arm weight or hold something like a can of food or a bottle of water in your hand to get a little more out of the exercise.
2. Finger walking wall stretch
The key to any mobility or stretching exercise for your frozen shoulder is increasing the range of motion gradually. This self-limiting exercise is the perfect way to achieve this. You simply walk your fingers up a wall as high as you can and try to go a little higher from one day to the next. I’ve used this exercise with friends who have had frozen shoulder, and they all report it works really well; I learned it from another friend who is a physio.
3. Pole assisted mobility exercises
One of the biggest problems facing someone with frozen shoulder is that the shoulder is stiff, but you still have to move it around. One way to crack this issue is to use a pole so you can use your unaffected arm to move the side that you are treating. This sequence of frozen shoulder exercises is just like working with a physical therapist except you will be the one providing the help!
4. Child’s Pose
This yoga pose gently pushes your arms above your head while simultaneously opening your chest, mobilizing your upper back, and stretching your lower back. Talk about efficient! It’s a very gentle stretch which is also relaxing and helps eliminate stress. I like to do this one even though I don’t have frozen shoulder because, in my opinion, it’s a great way to prevent the problem in the first place.
5. Shoulder strengthening exercises
You don’t just need mobility to treat and prevent frozen shoulder, you need strength too. But, and this is the problem, you have a limited movement which can mean many traditional strengthening exercises are impossible. Luckily, you can strengthen your muscles without making big movements with a type of exercise called isometrics. In this video, you’ll see four exercises that are perfect for strengthening a frozen shoulder. Just work within your current, comfortable range of motion.
Common causes, symptoms and natural ways to relieve shoulder pain. All together in a complete guide available here.