5 stretches that can loosen up your frozen shoulder

If you have frozen shoulders, your shoulder joints become painful and stiff. The best way to get rid of this condition is by doing some stretches.

A paper published in the Journal of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says that patients with a painful stiff shoulder are frequently diagnosed with frozen shoulder. This is a vague diagnosis because there are many factors that contribute to motion loss in the shoulder, say researchers from George Washington University Medical Center in Washington. According to them, frozen shoulder is not necessarily the result of an injury. The condition can start out as some soreness in the shoulder before the patient begins to notice some progressive restriction of movement.

Researchers say that the best way to help restore the patient's range of movement and significantly reduce shoulder discomfort begins with gentle, progressive stretching exercises over weeks, sometimes months, in order to relieve adhesive capsulitis symptoms. They further add that the first step in treatment is a physical therapy programme to stretch the capsule slowly and progressively. This is usually successful. Surgical intervention is usually the last option and it is reserved for patients who do not show adequate progress over a period of months of physical therapy.

Your shoulders give you the freedom to push, pull, pick up items, give a big hug and help you engage in many other activities during your daily life. That's why having a frozen shoulder is not only inconvenient but can be painful and bring a lot of discomfort to the individual.

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Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is a condition where the shoulder is limited in the range of motion, stiff and painful. The best way to treat this is to do shoulder stretching exercises. Exercises should include stretching to the point of tension but without going over your pain threshold. Your goal is to get your shoulder moving and help release it from the stiffness and pain you are experiencing.


Always engage in a warm-up routine for your shoulders before your exercise routine. Warm-ups can include taking a warm shower or bath for 10 to 15 minutes or using a heating pad or a damp heated towel on your shoulder.

Towel Stretch

Start by holding a 3-foot-long towel behind your back, with your hands holding the opposite ends of the towel. Hold the towel in a horizontal position and use your good arm to pull the affected arm up to give it a good stretch. To challenge yourself further, drape the towel over your good shoulder and holding the bottom of the towel with your affected arm, pull it toward the lower back using the good arm. Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times daily.

Cross-Body Reach

Stand in a comfortable position (or take a seat) and use your good arm to raise your affected arm at the elbow. Bring this arm up and across your body as you apply some pressure to stretch the shoulder. Try to hold this stretch for about 15 to 20 seconds. Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times daily.

Armpit Stretch

Use your good arm to lift your affected arm onto a shelf that is chest-height. With a slight bend in your knees, open up the armpit and continue to deepen the bend in your knee to stretch the armpit. Straighten your knee to release. As you continue this exercise, continue to deepen your knee bend to deepen the stretch but only go until your shoulder allows. Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times daily.

Inward Rotation

Tie a resistance band to a door handle and hold the other end of the band with your affected arm. Keeping your elbow at a 90-degree angle, start to pull the band toward your body and pause for a few seconds. Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times daily.

Finger Walks

Face a wall with about three-quarters of your arm's length away and touch the wall with your fingers of the affected arm. Place your arm in line with your waist and gently tap on the wall. With a slight bend in your elbow, walk your finger upward until you can raise your arm comfortably. Make sure your fingers are the ones that are engaged and not your shoulder muscles. Lower the arm gently and repeat. Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times daily.

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