9 Exercises at Frozen Shoulder
Troubled with frozen shoulder and shoulder pain? Here are 9 good exercises for the frozen shoulder that provide increased movement, less pain and better function. Feel free to share with anyone who is bothered by adhesive capsule.
Frozen shoulder causes greatly reduced movement and pain - over a longer period of time. It is therefore also common that one gets Pain in the neck og shoulder blade as the muscles try to compensate for the lack of movement. We therefore always recommend that you combine 'hands-on' treatment with exercises and training. Feel free to consult your clinician regarding these exercises. Frozen shoulder also goes through different "phases" (phases 1 to 3), so it is not certain that you can do all of these exercises - it must be considered by the individual. Feel free to read the section on what the research says about how to treat frozen shoulder.
In this article you will be able to learn more about:
Training program of 9 Exercises against Frozen Shoulder
VIDEO: Frozen Shoulder Exercises - Phase 1
Evidence-based Treatment and Self-Measures against Frozen Shoulder
Clinics and Therapists Near You with Expertise on Frozen Shoulder
VIDEO: Exercises against Frozen Shoulder (Phase 1)
Click on the video below to see a training program for you in Phase 1 of frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulite).
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1. Codman's Pendulum and Circle Exercise
This is a good warm-up before you start with the training routine - and can be successfully performed several times a day. The exercise stimulates movement in the shoulder joint and mobilizes the muscles so that it is ready for the rest of the training. Let the arm that is affected by the frozen shoulder hang down - at the same time as you lean on a table or similar with the healthy arm. Then let the shoulder move in circles - both clockwise and counterclockwise. Then make the pendulum movement back and forth, as well as side to side. Be sure to maintain a neutral curve in your back when doing the exercises. Do this in 30-45 seconds before taking a break. Repeat over 3-4 sets - 2 times a day.
2. Inward rotation with elastic
Exercise that mobilizes and provides increased movement in the shoulder blades. This is done by using an elastic band, a towel or the shaft of a broom and then holding it behind the body - with the left hand (or opposite) behind the back and the right hand over the shoulder backwards. Remember to adapt in relation to your own shoulder problems. You should only stretch as much as you are comfortable with.
A: Starting position (With the frozen shoulder in the lower position)
B: Pull calmly upwards - so that you feel the shoulder and shoulder blades move gently. Stop when it starts to hurt and then lower back to starting position.
Performed above 3 sets with 10-12 repetitions - 2 times a day.
3. Scapula mobilization / 4. pectoralis stretching / 5. biceps stretching
Scapula / shoulder mobilization: Active review of the shoulder movement pattern without resistance. Roll your shoulders forward, then roll back. Turn the arm outwards (outwards-rotation) at the same time as it hangs down along the side. Lift your shoulders up and then lower them down. Light exercises that keep the movement going inside the shoulder joint. Can be done several times a day.
Pectoralis / chest muscle stretching:Feel free to use a doorway when performing this stretchy exercise. Put your arms up along the door frames and then gently lower your torso forward until you feel a stretch toward the front of the chest in the attachment to the front of the shoulder. Hold the stretch in 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
Biceps stretch: Place your hand calmly against a wall. Then gently turn the upper body towards the opposite side until you feel it stretch gently in the shoulder blade and shoulder. Keep the clothing position in 20-30 seconds and repeat over 3-4 sets.
6. Isometric Exercise / 7. Shoulder Reflection / 8. Outward Rotation / 9. Shoulder Abduction
Isometric Training:By isometric training is meant exercises where you train without the muscle becoming shorter or longer - ie only resistance-based.
A: Isometric outward rotation. Hold your elbow against your body and find a suitable place to perform the exercise. The pressure should be on the outside of the wrist. Press outwards for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat 4 repetitions over 3 sets.
B: Isometric inward rotation. Same design as A, but with pressure on the inside of the wrist and push inwards.
Shoulder flexion: Hold a broom handle, stick, knit or towel in shoulder width. Then raise your arms up against the ceiling in a gentle motion. Stop when you feel there is resistance. Repeat 10 repetitions over 3 sets. To be done daily.
Beyond Rotation: Lie on your back and hold a stick, knit or towel in shoulder width. Then lower your shoulder to the left side until you feel resistance. Repeat on the other side. 10 repetitions over 3 sets - daily. Alternatively, you can do as below - but only within the range of motion you can manage.
Shoulder abduction: abduction means in good Norwegian Dumbell Lateral Raisen. So this exercise is about raising the relevant side out and up while holding a knit or broom handle. To be done on both sides. 10 repetitions / 3 sets. Daily.
Treatment and Self-Measures against Frozen Shoulder
Recent studies have documented that pressure wave therapy can be as effective as the more invasive cortisone injection (1). A major research study published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (2020), with 103 patient participants, compared four pressure wave treatments, with a week in between, versus an ultrasound-guided cortisone injection. The conclusion showed the following:
There was a significant improvement in shoulder mobility and range of motion (also known as the abbreviation ROM - range of motion) in both patient groups. However, in terms of pain and functionality, a significant improvement was seen in the group that had received pressure wave treatment. In fact, the latter reported a twice as good improvement over pain on the VAS (visual analogue scale).
You can read the results yourself here (opens in new link). The research results are also supported by previous major research studies (2, 3) - which can also point to faster return to normal function and improved quality of life. Based on this, all patients with frozen shoulders should first be recommended a plan with pressure wave treatments consisting of 4-6 treatments (worsening variants, one can expect a few extra treatments), with a week in between. This should be done in combination with customized home exercises. If this can not show any effect, one can consider cortisone injection, but then only ultrasound-guided as such. Studies have shown, not surprisingly, that non-ultrasound-guided injections should be avoided, as they have a low hit rate.
Self-Action: What Can I Do Myself Against Frozen Shoulder?
- Movement / walking walks
- Training with Elastic
- Massage balls against tense muscles in the shoulder and neck
As mentioned earlier, certain more specific mobility exercises in particular are recommended, as these have shown a documented effect on range of motion and pain in systematic review studies (4). In combination with this, many people experience pain relief and improvement by using self-measures that can work against tense muscles in and around the shoulder, as well as under the shoulder blade itself.
Recommendation 1: Training elastic
Exercising with elastic is safe and controlled. Here you avoid unnecessary risks by getting too far in an outward movement or the like - something that is important to avoid with a frozen shoulder. Training elastics come in different strengths, and for adhesive capsules we recommend beige or yellow strength (click here to see an example - the link opens in a new window).
Recommendation 2: Massage balls
We can all benefit from a little self-treatment aimed at tense and tight muscles. In the case of adhesive capsulite, the muscles in and around the shoulder blade are particularly affected, as well as further up towards the neck. Et set of trigger point balls (link opens in new window) can help you work into and resolve painful muscle tensions. Alternatively, for more extensive muscle pain, this can be combined with the application of heat conditioner.
Recommendation 3: Reusable Heat Pack
A heat pack that can be used again and again is something we are happy to recommend to everyone. There are far too many of these that can only be used once (disposable packs), and in addition to being bad for nature, this quickly becomes expensive if you want to use it regularly. Very practical to have lying down, as it can also be used as a cold pack - that is, what we call one reusable combination pack (link opens in new window). The pack is heated in a microwave or in hot water before it is applied to the tense and sore muscles. This can also be done preventively.
Do You Want a Consultation or Do You Have Questions?
Feel free to contact us at YouTube or Facebook if you have questions or the like regarding frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis). You can also see an overview of our clinics via the link here if you want to book a consultation. Some of our departments for the Pain Clinics include Eidsvoll Healthy Chiropractor Center and Physiotherapy (Viken) and Lambertseter Chiropractor Center and Physiotherapy (Oslo). With us, professional competence and the patient are always most important - and you can be sure that we have a high level of competence in the assessment and treatment of frozen shoulder.
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1. El Naggar et al, 2020. Effectiveness of radial extracorporeal shock-wave therapy versus ultrasound-guided low-dose intra-articular steroid injection in improving shoulder pain, function, and range of motion in diabetic patients with shoulder adhesive capsulitis. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2020 Jul; 29 (7): 1300-1309.
2. Muthukrishnan et al, 2019. The effectiveness of extracorporeal shockwave therapy for frozen shoulder in patients with diabetes: randomized control trial. J Phys Ther Sci. 2019 Jul; 31 (7): 493-497.
3. Vahdatpour et al, 2014. Efficacy of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy in Frozen Shoulder. Int J Prev Med. 2014 Jul; 5 (7): 875–881.
4. Nakandala et al, 2021. The efficacy of physiotherapy interventions in the treatment of adhesive capsulitis: A systematic review. J Back Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation. 2021; 34 (2): 195-205.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons 2.0, Creative Commons, Freestockphotos and submitted reader contributions.