5 Frozen Shoulder Exercises For Pain Relief

5 Frozen Shoulder Exercises For Pain Relief

Feb 10, 2024

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5 Frozen Shoulder Exercises for Quick Relief

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition where the shoulder becomes stiff and movement becomes restricted. This condition can make daily activities difficult and cause discomfort.

The good news is that doing stretching and strengthening exercises can help to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and provide relief.

In this blog post, we will cover 5 easy exercises that can be done at home to help manage the symptoms of a frozen shoulder. Always consult a physical therapist or doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

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What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder occurs when thick, tight scar tissue builds up in the shoulder joint capsule over time. This scar tissue causes the capsule to become stiff and contracted. It leads to a painful restriction of shoulder movement that often worsens over time.

The condition typically develops in three stages:

  • Freezing Stage: The shoulder begins to ache, especially when lifting the arm. Pain and stiffness intensify.
  • Frozen Stage: The stiffness plateaus, but the shoulder remains very painful with limited mobility. This stage can last from 4 months to over a year.
  • Thawing Stage: The range of motion slowly improves over the course of 1-3 years as the scar tissue starts softening.

While the exact cause is unclear, factors like diabetes, thyroid issues, heart disease, and immobilization of the shoulder can increase risk. Trauma or surgery on the shoulder may also trigger adhesive capsulitis. Treatment focuses on pain relief and preserving shoulder mobility.

1. Pendulum Stretch

This first-line treatment stretch loosens the shoulder joint capsule through gentle circular movements. The motions gently stretch contracted tissues without strain or discomfort.

How to do it:

  • Stand and lean forward, allowing your affected arm to hang down. Keep about a slight bend in your waist.
  • Initiate movement from the shoulder, swinging the arm in small circles clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Start with circles about 1 foot in diameter. Perform 10 revolutions each way.
  • As shoulder mobility increases, begin swinging larger circles during this stretch.

Repeat this easy stretch 1-2 times per day to maintain and improve shoulder mobility. The circular movements lubricate the shoulder joint while safely stretching contracted tissues.

2. Towel Stretch

The towel stretch leverages the power of your good arm to gently stretch the affected one. This helps improve mobility and flexibility.

How to do it:

  • Hold one end of a 3 foot towel behind your back. Grip the other end with your affected arm.
  • Keeping the towel horizontal, use your good arm to slowly pull the other arm up behind you until you feel a mild stretch.
  • Hold for 15-30 seconds, then relax the stretch and repeat 10 times.
  • Do this easy stretch 1-2 times per day.

This stretch can be done seated or standing. Over time, stretch further until shoulder mobility improves.

3. Finger Walks

Finger walks up the wall mobilize the shoulder joint through its range of motion while conditioning the rotator cuff muscles. This exercise improves stability, strength, and mobility simultaneously.

How to do it:

  • Stand facing a wall, about 2 feet away. Raise your affected arm, reaching fingertips towards the wall at about waist height. Place fingers on the wall.
  • Keeping your elbow straight, slowly “walk” fingers up the wall as if you’re a spider. Raise the arm as high as comfortable, feeling a stretch.
  • Pause once your reach your limit, then lower the arm slowly back down to start. That counts as 1 rep.
  • Repeat for 10 reps, 1-2x per day.

Move the arm in different directions once able - sideways, diagonally etc. The finger motions strengthen stabilizer muscles while you stretch.

4. Cross Body Reach

This stretch uses the power of the good arm to gently mobilize the affected one across the body. Holding the stretch helps loosen tight tissues.

How to do it:

  • Sit or stand with good posture. Use your strong arm to grasp the elbow of your affected arm.
  • Gently stretch the arm across your chest at a diagonal until you feel mild tension.
  • Hold for 15-30 seconds, then slowly release the arm back to start position.
  • Repeat this shoulder stretch 10 times, 1-2x daily.

The diagonal motion targets different muscle groups while safely improving mobility. Breathe deeply during the stretch.

5. Door Frame Stretch

This chest and shoulder stretch leverages your body weight and a door frame to open up the front of the shoulder joint. It gently targets tight chest and arm tissues.

How to do it:

  • Stand in a doorway facing the frame. Raise your affected arm to shoulder height and rest your forearm against the frame. Rotate your body away from the door to feel a stretch across the chest and front shoulder.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, taking slow deep breaths.
  • Release and repeat 5 times on each side, 1-2x daily.

Always start gently - this stretch should feel mildly uncomfortable, not painful. Stop if you have pinching pain in the front of the shoulder.

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When to See a Physical Therapist

While these 5 exercises can kickstart recovery, your doctor may recommend supervised physical therapy for optimal, lasting results.

The main goals of physical therapy are to:

  • Improve shoulder mobility
  • Strengthen shoulder and rotator cuff muscles
  • Restore proper movement patterns
  • Provide pain-relieving modalities like heat, ice, or electrical stimulation

A physical therapist can design a customized treatment plan with advanced stretches and exercises. They may use manual techniques to help relax tight tissues and guide your body through proper range of motion.

Physical therapy helps ensure you move your shoulder safely to avoid compensation patterns or future injury.

If these easy exercises provide relief, keep doing them consistently alongside any other treatments your doctor recommends.

Stay positive through your frozen shoulder recovery - being diligent with conservative treatments helps most people regain good shoulder function over 1-2 years.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What are some exercises for frozen shoulder?

Exercises to help alleviate frozen shoulder include stretching and strengthening movements like walking your fingers up a wall and performing pendulum stretches.

How can I manage shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain can be managed with various methods including stretching exercises, applying heat with a heating pad, and performing rotator cuff-strengthening exercises.

What can I do for pain relief?

Pain relief for shoulder discomfort can be achieved through methods such as taking a warm shower, using a heating pad, and performing specific exercises targeted at improving mobility.

Where can I find recent blog articles on shoulder health?

Recent blog articles discussing shoulder health and exercises for frozen shoulder relief can provide valuable insights into managing shoulder pain and improving range of motion.

How can I improve my range of motion in my shoulder?

You can enhance your shoulder's range of motion by performing exercises such as walking your fingers up a wall and doing stretches to loosen stiff muscles.

What role does the shoulder blade play in shoulder health?

The shoulder blade, or scapula, is crucial for shoulder stability and proper movement. Strengthening exercises targeting the muscles around the shoulder blade can improve overall shoulder function.

Are there specific exercises recommended for frozen shoulder?

Are there specific exercises recommended for frozen shoulder? Yes, exercises tailored for frozen shoulder can include stretching movements like the towel stretch and strengthening exercises such as using an exercise band for resistance training.

What exercises are beneficial for alleviating frozen shoulder symptoms?

Exercises targeting frozen shoulder may include gentle stretching exercises, rotator cuff-strengthening movements, and mobility-enhancing activities like pendulum stretches.

What are the top 5 exercises for frozen shoulder?

What are the top 5 exercises for frozen shoulder? The top 5 exercises for frozen shoulder may include pendulum stretches, towel stretches, finger walks, cross-body reaches, and armpit stretches.

Can you suggest 5 exercises for shoulder pain relief?

Yes, exercises like pendulum stretches, towel stretches, finger walks, cross-body reaches, and armpit stretches can help alleviate shoulder discomfort.

Are there any easy exercises I can do for shoulder pain?

Yes, gentle exercises such as walking your fingers up a wall and performing pendulum stretches are easy yet effective for managing shoulder pain.

What are some common causes of frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder may be caused by factors such as shoulder stiffness, inflammation, and limited mobility due to conditions like arthritis or previous shoulder injuries.

How can I improve internal rotation in my shoulder?

Internal rotation in the shoulder can be improved through exercises like the towel stretch and internal rotation with an exercise band.

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Expert Advice:

Experts recommend incorporating gentle stretching and strengthening exercises into your daily routine to improve mobility and alleviate discomfort associated with frozen shoulder.

Why 5 Frozen Shoulder Exercises?

Experts suggest focusing on a combination of five specific exercises targeted at improving range of motion and strengthening the shoulder muscles affected by frozen shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder Causes

According to experts, frozen shoulder can be caused by various factors such as shoulder stiffness, inflammation, and limited mobility due to conditions like arthritis or previous shoulder injuries.

Experts advise against relying solely on injections for pain relief and recommend incorporating exercises targeting shoulder muscles and mobility to effectively manage frozen shoulder symptoms.

To alleviate discomfort in the affected shoulder, experts recommend performing exercises at a 90-degree angle and incorporating gentle stretches, ensuring to always warm up the shoulder before exercising.

Experts stress the importance of performing exercises correctly and consistently, as well as gradually increasing movement in the shoulder to avoid further stiffness.

For optimal results, experts recommend adding rotator cuff–strengthening exercises to your routine and performing stretching exercises before engaging in strengthening activities.

Experts in sports medicine emphasize the benefits of regular exercise and stretching to improve shoulder mobility and alleviate stiffness associated with frozen shoulder.

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1. Cleveland Clinic:

Cleveland Clinic. "3 Frozen Shoulder Exercises to Relieve Pain." Health Essentials, 15 Dec. 2021, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/frozen-shoulder-exercises.

2. Harvard Health Publishing:

Harvard Health Publishing. "How to Release a Frozen Shoulder." Harvard Health, 26 June 2023, https://www.health.harvard.edu/shoulder-pain/frozen-shoulder.

3. Kaiser Permanente:

Kaiser Permanente. "Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): Tips and Exercises." https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness/health-encyclopedia/he.frozen-shoulder-exercises.zp4450

4. University of Washington:

University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. "Home Exercises for the Stiff or Frozen Shoulder." 11 Nov. 2023, https://healthonline.washington.edu/sites/default/files/record_pdfs/Exercises-Shoulder-Pain.pdf

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