Frozen Shoulder Exercises: Best Treatment for Frozen Shoulder
In this post I want to show you a series of frozen shoulder exercises you can do if you want to:
- Relieve pain
- Improve range of motion, and
- Speed up the process of recovery
The best treatment for frozen shoulder will always be the one which works naturally to give you back your freedom of movement without having to put any drugs in your body or resort to surgery.
Doing range of motion exercises for frozen shoulder will allow you to gradually stretch your shoulder joints and strengthen your rotator cuff and other muscles essential to shoulder health.
Before you start the road to recovery, I have good news and bad news. First the bad news: this is going to take some work. You need to set aside the time twice a day to do these frozen shoulder exercises. You need to do them consistently and you need to do them every single day.
The good news is that there’s a simple, inexpensive tool you can use to make the exercises easy, relaxing and maybe even fun.
A physical therapy pulley system is one of the most effective treatments for frozen shoulder.
To use the physical therapy pulley you simply wedge it over the door as shown here:
You can adjust the length of the rope by moving the position of the knot under the handle:
Then, sitting in a chair in front of the door, you’re ready to begin your frozen shoulder treatment exercises.
7 frozen shoulder exercises using a physical therapy pulley
The exercises should be done in the order they’re shown in below, starting from easy and increasing in difficulty as your range of motion improves.
If you have very serious frozen shoulder symptoms, you may have to only do the first exercise for several days before moving on to the next. If your symptoms are mild, you can do all the exercises from the beginning. Listen to your body.
To give your frozen shoulder the best possible level of treatment, do the exercises twice a day, every day. You can do 3 or 4 sets of each exercise, making sure to hold the stretch in the final position for around 10 seconds.
Sit in a chair facing the door. The unaffected arm will always pull the affected arm (here it’s the left arm). As you pull down on one handle, the opposite arm is pulled up and towards the door, gently stretching the shoulder joint.
In the next exercise, your chair is turned 90 degrees so you can do the same exercise with your arm being pulled to the side.
Once your range of motion has improved somewhat, turn the chair to face away from the door. Lift the affected arm up directly in front of you.
Now change the angle so your arm is at 45 degrees. Do the same exercise at this angle, stretching the arm as high as you can.
The next movement is the same as the previous two, but now your arm is angled out at 90 degrees to the side.
Next, stand up and lift the affected arm up and down behind your back, starting off with small movements. Gradually increase the range of motion as you become more flexible.
Once you are comfortable with exercises 1-6, begin outward rotations using the physical therapy pulley. Stand side-on to the door and pull the injured arm in an outward rotating movement.
In this exercise, keep your shoulder in a natural position – not hunched up or slumped forward. Your elbow should be held fixed at your side – you can use a rolled up towel as shown to help with this.
These are the basic set of physical therapy pulley movements you can do to treat a frozen shoulder safely and effectively. These alone should be enough to give you back your freedom of movement.
For a more advanced level of frozen shoulder exercises, you should aim to improve the strength of your rotator cuff, the group of muscles most important to shoulder health.
Rotational exercises using a resistance band are the best way to strengthen your rotator cuff. In the below exercise, the shoulder is rotated outwards:
Next, do the same exercise except rotating inwards:
These exercises can be done with many different kinds of resistance bands – they just need to be fixed at one point, and you can vary the resistance level by standing closer or further away. Check out our post on physio shoulder exercises for more ideas.
As with the final exercise using the physical therapy pulley, you need to make sure your shoulder doesn’t hunch up or slouch forward, and you can use a rolled up towel to make sure your elbow stays fixed at your side.