Frozen Shoulder Exercises





Reducing adhesive capsulitis stiffness can be accomplished with following general frozen shoulder exercises. Below you will find a series of exercises to help reduce shoulder joint pain and improve range of motion and function. Recovering from adhesive capsulitis is not easy. Follow these exercises consistently and over time, your mobility and function will improve.

Of course, as part of the overall treatment program, utilize ice therapy to help minimize localized shoulder joint pain and swelling. In addition, avoid all aggravating activities as these will only increase inflammation and pain.

Because adhesive capsulitis results in significant shoulder stiffness, focus of these frozen shoulder exercises is on improving range of motion. Unfortunately, with stretching a stiff shoulder, significant discomfort will be felt when doing the stretches. This is normal.

Repeat the stretching program listed below a few times each day, followed by ice.

Frozen Shoulder Exercises: Stretching


shoulder flexion stretch

Supine Shoulder Flexion

Lying flat on your back, grab a stick/golf club/bat with both hands, shoulder width apart. Keeping elbows straight, lift both arms up and overhead, using the uninjured shoulder to control the movement. Stretch the shoulder in this overhead position to the point of discomfort but not pain. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.



posterior capsule stretch

Posterior Shoulder Stretch

Keeping elbow straight and in a thumb up position, move injured shoulder across body toward the opposite shoulder. Use the opposite arm to provide an extra stretch by moving the arm closer to the opposite shoulder. To minimize pain, keep arm slightly below shoulder level. A stretch should be felt in the back of the shoulder. Hold 20 to 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.



shoulder abduction stretch

Wall Shoulder Abduction Stretch

While facing a wall, walk the injured arm up overhead until a stretch but no pain is felt in the shoulder. While keeping the arm in this overhead position, rotate your body away from the wall. Hold for another 20 seconds. Repeat this process 3 times.



shoulder ER stretch

Table External Rotation Stretch

Place yourself in a sitting position along side a table. Rest your arm on the table with the elbow in a 90 degree flexed position. Keeping your forearm and elbow flat on the table, lean your body forward until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold this stretch 20 seconds and repeat 3 times.



shoulder hand behind teh back stretch

Hand Behind Back Stretch

Utilizing a towel, grab the towel with the uninjured arm with the towel falling behind your back. Grab the towel with the injured arm. Use the uninjured arm to raise the towel up, bringing the involved arm across the back and up toward the opposite shoulder blade. Keep your low and upper back in an upright position as rounding forward will lessen the stretch. Hold stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.



low doorway stretch

Low Doorway Stretch

Stand outside of an open doorway. With your hands in a palm forward position and your elbows extended, place your hands on each side of the open doorway. Lean forward through the doorway, feeling a stretch in the front of the shoulders. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.


Sidelying sleeper stretch

Side Lying Sleeper Stretch

Lie on your side with injured shoulder down. Position your elbow on the table to be level with the shoulder you are lying on. Keeping the elbow flexed at a 90 degree angle, rotate your forearm toward the table. Make sure your shoulder does not elevate off the table, that your elbow does not straighten, and that you keep completely on your side as opposed to rolling toward your back. Hold the stretch 20 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.


Recovering from adhesive capsulitis can be a long and painful process. Be patient and consistent with these frozen shoulder exercises and in time your shoulder joint pain and mobility will improve.



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