At Home Exercises For Frozen Shoulder

Published June 29, 2019
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

frozen-shoulder-exercises-stretches
<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@type":"BlogPosting", "headline":"At Home Exercises For Frozen Shoulder", "datePublished":"June 29, 2019", "description":"These 6 frozen shoulder stretches and exercises will reduce pain and make your shoulder stronger and more flexible—right at home!", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/06/frozen-shoulder-thumbnail.jpg" }, } ] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">Can a Frozen Shoulder Go Away on Its Own?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">How to Fix a Frozen Shoulder</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">3 Best Frozen Shoulder Stretches</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">3 Best Frozen Shoulder Exercises</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Frozen Shoulder Stretches—Wrapping Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p align="justify">Frozen shoulder, also known as <i>adhesive capsulitis</i>, is characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint<sup>1</sup>. </p> <p align="justify">If you have shoulder pain or difficulty <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/2-easy-shoulder-stretches-to-increase-mobility/" rel="noreferrer">lifting your arms</a>, you might have a frozen shoulder. </p> <p align="justify">It’s called a ‘frozen shoulder’ because a layer of connective tissue actually thickens over the muscles and joints in your rotator cuff, restricting movement <sup>1</sup>. </p> <p align="justify">Doctors aren’t certain why some people get frozen shoulders, though your risk is higher if you’re over 40, have diabetes, or don’t get much exercise.</p> <p align="justify">In this article, we’ll dive into what you should know about your frozen shoulder and the six best frozen shoulder stretches and exercises you can do at home.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/frozen-shoulder-x-ray-right-0197.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/frozen-shoulder-x-ray-right-0197.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/frozen-shoulder-x-ray-right-0197.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/frozen-shoulder-x-ray-right-LR-0197.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="frozen-shoulder-x-ray-right"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Can a Frozen Shoulder Go Away on Its Own?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Remember, we aren’t doctors, but the medical community calls a frozen shoulder a “self-limiting” condition, meaning it might get better on its own after a few months.\n\nHowever...\n\n“Getting better” does not guarantee you’ll have the same range of motion you once did. After months of pain and restriction, some people are happy with a shoulder that’s almost back to normal—but obviously, that isn’t anyone’s first choice.\n\nDoctors say the worst thing you can do is stop using the affected shoulder 2. More adhesions can form on your rotator cuff if you rest it, resulting in more pain and even less mobility."}}]}</script> <h2>Can a Frozen Shoulder Go Away on Its Own?</h2> <p align="justify">Remember, we aren’t doctors, but the medical community calls a frozen shoulder a “self-limiting” condition, meaning it might get better on its own after a few months.</p> <p align="justify"><i>However...</i></p> <p align="justify">“Getting better” does not guarantee you’ll have the same <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/2-easy-shoulder-stretches-to-increase-mobility/" rel="noreferrer">range of motion</a> you once did. After months of pain and restriction, some people are happy with a shoulder that’s <i>almost</i> back to normal—but obviously, that isn’t anyone’s first choice.</p> <p align="justify">Doctors say the worst thing you can do is stop using the affected shoulder <sup>2</sup>. More adhesions can form on your rotator cuff if you rest it, resulting in more pain and even less mobility.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"How to Fix a Frozen Shoulder","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Severe frozen shoulders, where the pain is excruciating and mobility is greatly reduced, are usually treated with medications and even surgery.\n\nBut physical therapy and exercises are also options. Stretching and shoulder exercises can help mobilize, stabilize, and strengthen your frozen shoulder.\n\nKeep in mind: progressing your exercises is extra important with a frozen shoulder. It’s easier to get injured with less range of motion, so use exercises that aren’t too hard or too easy, but ‘just right’ (like Goldilocks, but for shoulder pain)."}}]}</script> <h2>How to Fix a Frozen Shoulder</h2> <p align="justify">Severe frozen shoulders, where the pain is excruciating and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/2-easy-shoulder-stretches-to-increase-mobility/" rel="noreferrer">mobility is greatly reduced</a>, are usually treated with medications and even surgery. </p> <p align="justify">But physical therapy and exercises are also options. Stretching and shoulder exercises can help mobilize, stabilize, and strengthen your frozen shoulder.</p> <p align="justify">Keep in mind: <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/6-bodyweight-leg-workout-progressions-you-can" rel="noreferrer">progressing your exercises</a> is extra important with a frozen shoulder. It’s easier to get injured with less range of motion, so use exercises that aren’t too hard or too easy, but ‘just right’ (like Goldilocks, but for shoulder pain).</p> <p align="justify">Try these three at-home exercises. The most you’ll need is a towel, rope, or broom handle. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>3 Best Frozen Shoulder Stretches</h2> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/frozen-shoulder-stretch-towel-0197.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/frozen-shoulder-stretch-towel-0197.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/frozen-shoulder-stretch-towel-0197.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/frozen-shoulder-stretch-towel-LR-0197.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="frozen-shoulder-stretch-towel"> </picture> <h3>1. Towel Stretch</h3> <p align="justify"><b>Equipment:</b> towel or rope (or something durable to hold onto, like a sweatshirt)</p> <p align="justify">Did you know that when your rotator cuff is healthy and flexible, you should be able to clasp your hands behind your back.</p> <p align="justify">Frozen shoulder or not, this isometric stretch is a good way to test shoulder flexibility. Create tension by gently opening up your shoulders and chest. But don’t force anything or stretch too far. Hold this isometric position for one to two minutes. </p> <p align="justify">If your frozen shoulder is really bad, you might need assistance from someone to hand you the other end. </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-cross-body-shoulder-0197.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-cross-body-shoulder-0197.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-cross-body-shoulder-0197.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-cross-body-shoulder-LR-0197.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="cross-body-shoulder"> </picture> <h3>2. Cross-Body Shoulder Capsule Stretch</h3> <p align="justify">Lock your elbow out so your arm is flexed when you start. You should feel a stretch in the shoulders and arms, especially the biceps. Hold for 30 seconds on each side, then repeat.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-pendulum-swings-0197.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-pendulum-swings-0197.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-pendulum-swings-0197.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-pendulum-swings-LR-0197.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="pendulum-swings"> </picture> <h3>3. Pendulum Swings</h3> <p align="justify">This is a dynamic stretch, which means you increase range of motion through movement. </p> <p align="justify">Bending at the waist and using a sturdy chair or table to support, let one arm hang straight down. Make clockwise or counterclockwise rotations with your arm starting from your shoulder joint. Do 30 rotations on one side, then switch.</p> <p align="justify">If your frozen shoulder is really bad, start with the smallest circles you can possibly make. Work your way up to bigger ones as you regain range of motion.</p> <p align="justify">And for more ideas, give these <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/2-easy-shoulder-stretches-to-increase-mobility/" rel="noreferrer">easy shoulder stretches</a> a try.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section4"> <h2>3 Best Frozen Shoulder Exercises</h2> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-side-plank-0197.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-side-plank-0197.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-side-plank-0197.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-side-plank-LR-0197.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="side-plank"> </picture> <h3>1. Kneeling Side Planks</h3> <p align="justify">Increasing range of motion is only <i>one</i> way to improve shoulder health. Stabilizing and strengthening the joint are equally important and should be part of any rehab or physical therapy you’re doing for a frozen shoulder.</p> <p align="justify"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/plank-exercises-to-activate-your-core/" rel="noreferrer">Kneeling side planks</a> are a great <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/27-beginner-bodyweight-exercises-that-get-results/" rel="noreferrer">beginner exercise</a> to start. </p> <p align="justify">Great for your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-oblique-exercises-for-core-strength" rel="noreferrer">obliques</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-at-home-exercises-for-lower-back-pain" rel="noreferrer">lower back pain</a>, side planks are also a fantastic way to work the rotator cuff muscles and stabilize the joint. And kneeling puts less stress on your frozen shoulder if you can’t support your full bodyweight on one side yet.</p> <p align="justify">Do 30 to 60 seconds on each side, and try to do two or three sets after you finish your shoulder stretches. And, check out these <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/at-home-exercises-to-strengthen-your-shoulders/" rel="noreferrer">at-home shoulder exercises</a> for more ideas.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-frozen-shoulder-broom-stretch-0197.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-frozen-shoulder-broom-stretch-0197.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-frozen-shoulder-broom-stretch-0197.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-frozen-shoulder-broom-stretch-LR-0197.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="frozen-shoulder-broom-stretch"> </picture> <h3>2. Shoulder Pass Throughs</h3> <p align="justify"><b>Equipment:</b> broom handle, stick, or long piece of rope</p> <p align="justify">Ideally, you have a long broom handle or skinny PVC pipe for these, but you can make do with any four to five foot skinny, lightweight object. Heck, grab a stick from the backyard if you can find one.</p> <p align="justify">Start with your hands out wide—at least three to four feet apart. Rest the broom handle with straight arms in front of you. <p align="justify">Your arms stay straight the whole time. The narrower your grip, the more difficult these will be.</p> <p align="justify">Raise the broom handle in front of your face, over your head, and behind your body. Your knuckles should be facing the floor in the finishing position. Still with straight arms, bring the PVC pipe back to where you started. </p> <p align="justify">“Pass” the broom handle “through” your shoulder range of motion. Go back and forth. Over time, you can narrow your grip to increase flexibility even more.</p> <p align="justify">Do 20 to 30 of these every day. They double as both a stretch and an exercise.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-shoulder-wall-stretch-1-0197.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-shoulder-wall-stretch-1-0197.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-shoulder-wall-stretch-1-0197.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-shoulder-wall-stretch-1-LR-0197.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="shoulder-wall-stretch"> </picture> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-shoulder-wall-stretch-2-0197.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-shoulder-wall-stretch-2-0197.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-shoulder-wall-stretch-2-0197.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/courtney-shoulder-wall-stretch-2-LR-0197.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="shoulder-wall-stretch"> </picture> <h3>3. External and Internal Rotation</h3> <p align="justify"><b>Equipment:</b> light exercise band if you have it, but not required.</p> <p align="justify">Keep your elbows under your shoulder, creating a 90 degree angle with your arm. Make a tight core, then switch between external rotation (palm facing out) and internal rotation (palm facing in). Do 10 to 20 reps per side.</p> <p align="justify">If you don’t have an exercise band, simply place your back flat against a wall. Point your elbows at shoulder height (or as high as you can go) out to the sides. Move back and forth between internal rotation (palms facing wall) and external rotation (palms facing ceiling or as high as you can go).</p> <p align="justify">Go slow and breathe. Do 10 to 20 reps per side.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>Frozen Shoulder Stretches—Wrapping Up</h2> <p align="justify">Use these frozen shoulder stretches and exercises to open up your rotator cuff muscles, prevent new adhesions from forming, and get you back to having pain-free, flexible shoulders.</p> <p align="justify">And remember to pick challenging-but-doable exercise progressions—nothing too challenging— because with a limited range of motion, you could get injured.</p> <p align="justify">Has your frozen shoulder been a wakeup call to get back to exercising? Dig the idea of being able to do your workouts right at home? Come <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/introduction/warrior-made-tribe/" rel="noreferrer">join us</a>!</p> <p align="justify"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/" rel="noreferrer">Warrior Made</a> gives you weekly bodyweight workouts, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/" rel="noreferrer">nutrition advice</a>, recipe ideas, and the accountability you need to build strong, healthy muscles and transform your body—and you can <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/introduction/warrior-made-tribe/" rel="noreferrer">join our fitness tribe</a> FREE for 14 days!</p> <h3>Resources</h3> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/frozen-shoulder/symptoms-causes/syc-20372684" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Frozen shoulder</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.sports-health.com/blog/5-things-you-need-know-if-you-have-frozen-shoulder" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5 Things You Need to Know if You Have Frozen Shoulder</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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