Frozen shoulder is the common term used to describe adhesive capsulitis, a condition that results in pain and limited shoulder mobility. While the exact cause is unclear, regular daily gentle stretching can help avoid or address the issue.

Sedentary work, being overcautious after shoulder surgery, injury recovery, inflammation, increased age or stroke are possible contributing factors to frozen shoulder. The onset may be slow, giving you time to adopt an exercise routine.

Therapeutic exercise can be undertaken in an attempt to:

  • avoid developing frozen shoulder,
  • address shoulder stiffness and reduced mobility before it advances, or
  • treat frozen shoulder and contribute to restoring mobility.

Be aware you should not be experiencing harsh and increasing pain during these exercises. The goal is to increase available motion, not cause further damage. These stretches are to be carried out slowly, without jerking or uncontrolled motions.


Wall stretch

Keeping your back against the wall, bend your knees a little. Turn your palms outward, and lift your arms over your head at a slow pace, as far as you can. Gently lower your arms. Repeat 8-10 times.


Pendulum Stretch

Bend over slightly. One hand can lean on a sturdy support, such as a table. Let the arm with the frozen shoulder hang down. Gently swing the arm in a small circle, about 20-30cm wide. Do 5-10 circles clockwise, and then anti-clockwise.

It’s important to note your shoulder is not supposed to be propelling the motion. Place legs apart, or one leg back, to maintain balance. Over time, slowly widen the diameter of the swinging circle. (Related Article: Top 5 Stretches to Increase Flexibility and Mobility)


Finger Walk

Facing a wall, stand almost an arms-length away. Reach out the arm on the side experiencing issues, until one or two fingertips are touching the wall, around waist height. Now “walk” two fingers up the wall, with elbow slightly bent, as far as you can.

Pause the stretch here for a few seconds, and then “walk” fingers back down to the starting point. Repeat 10-20 times, before “finger walking” the opposite arm as well. Over time you can lengthen the seconds spent stretching.


Cross Body Stretch

Use the unaffected arm to lift the other (holding onto the elbow) until the affected arm is across the body with the elbow slightly bent. When you feel a stretch, hold for 15-20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.


Towel Stretch

Behind you back, hold a towel between both hands. Pull the towel higher/upward on the side without an issue, and have the side with the shoulder issue pulling lower/downward. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat 10-20 times.


The Importance of Nutrition

What you consume can have a marked impact on your body. With no specific food guidelines for frozen shoulder, the best approach is to increase overall nutrient intake, and try to reduce inflammation.


Dietary changes to consider:

  • Avoid highly processed food.
  • Increase fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • Include anti-inflammatory options such as fatty fish.
  • Reduce salt and sugar in diet.
  • Cook with cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and garlic.
  • Remove caffeine from your daily schedule.
  • Begin a magnesium supplement. (Check this is safe for you with your doctor.)


Seeking Expert Advice and Assistance

If a shoulder is giving you trouble and you’re unsure of the cause of the issue, Dr. Jens Buelow will conduct a comprehensive examination, and suggest a suitable treatment for your shoulders. Call (08) 9212 4200 or use the contact form to make an appointment.