If you’ve been diagnosed with a frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, performing regular home exercises for a frozen shoulder can help regain mobility in your stiff, painful shoulder joint. By gradually stretching and strengthening the shoulder, these simple exercises can break up adhesions, improve range of motion, and reduce discomfort.

Be sure to warm up the shoulder first by applying heat before these exercises. Do them slowly and gently, without forcing any movements that cause pain. Aim to do the exercises daily for the best results.

Helpful Stretching Exercises

Pendulum Stretch

  • Lean forward and let your affected arm hang freely. Gently swing it side to side and in small circles.
  • Allows gravity to naturally stretch the shoulder joint capsule and warm up the muscles.
  • Do 10 reps swinging side to side and 10 reps circling each direction.
Pendulum Stretch for Frozen Shoulders

Towel Stretch

  • Hold one end of a 3 ft towel behind your back with one hand. Grab the other end with your affected arm.
  • Use your good arm to slowly pull the affected arm up the back, gently stretching the shoulder.
  • Stretches the shoulder capsule and chest muscles.
  • Do 10-20 reps daily. Can advance by draping a towel over a good shoulder.
Towel Stretch for Frozen Shoulder

Finger Walk

  • Face wall, arm’s length away. Touch the wall with the fingertips of the affected arm.
  • Keeping the elbow bent, slowly walk your fingers up the wall as high as you can.
  • Stretches shoulder capsule and deltoid. Fingers should do the work.
  • Do 10-20 reps daily.
Finger Walk for Frozen Shoulder

Cross-Body Reach

  • Use a good arm to lift the affected arm up and across the chest.
  • Stretches shoulder capsule and back muscles.
  • Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds.
  • Do 10-20 reps daily.
Cross-Body Reach for Frozen Shoulder

Armpit Stretch

  • Lift the affected arm to the shelf at breast height with a good arm.
  • Bend knees to open armpit and stretch.
  • Stretches shoulder capsule and chest muscles.
  • Do 10-20 reps daily, stretching further with each rep.
Armpit Stretch for Frozen Shoulder

Helpful Strengthening Exercises

Once the range of motion starts improving:

Outward Rotation

  • Hold resistance band between hands, and elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Rotate the affected arm outward 2-3 inches. Hold 5 seconds.
  • Strengthens rotator cuff muscles.
  • Do 10-15 reps daily.
Outward Rotation for Frozen Shoulder

Inward Rotation

  • Anchor resistance band in the door. Hold with the affected arm.
  • Pull the band inward 2-3 inches. Hold 5 seconds.
  • Strengthens rotator cuff.
  • Do 10-15 reps daily.
Inward Rotation for Frozen Shoulder

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