Physical Therapy for Frozen Shoulder – 4 Exercises and Techniques

By Team Movement For Life | May 16, 2018

frozen shoulder can be an irritating problem. Not only is it painful, but it also leaves your shoulder feeling stiff, and limits the movement of the joint in all directions, restricting your motion and keeping you from performing a number of every day activities. However, with a few exercises and techniques, you can manage and eventually fix this problem. As always, if you’re suffering from frozen shoulder or any physical problem, make sure that you consult with your doctor and physical therapist to discuss your problem and work out what exercises are best for you. Here are a few of the tried and tested exercises that your physical therapist may recommend to you to offer relief for a frozen shoulder – make sure you discuss any plan for treatment with your therapist, so you can make sure you’re doing the right exercises for you. Without further ado, physical therapy for frozen shoulder does work wonders and here are the exercises can help alleviate some discomfort.


Standing Extension

This is a relatively simple exercise with a lot of benefits for a frozen shoulder. All you need to perform this maneuver is a lightweight bar or cane. Stand up straight and hold the cane behind your body in a horizontal position, using both your palms facing backward. Keep your arms about shoulder-width apart and lift the cane up and backward till you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Remember that you need to stop once you feel pain. Perform this exercise about ten times, twice or three times every day, until you start to see noticeable benefits.


Cross-Body Stretch

This exercise can be performed by people with a mild case of frozen shoulder. You need to begin by either sitting or standing with your arms relaxed at your sides. Stretch your affected arm across your body over the chest, and use your other arm to aid this movement by holding the elbow of your affected arm and pulling it gently. Hold this stretch for about 10 to 20 seconds, release it, and repeat as necessary. Remember that people with severe cases of frozen shoulder should not perform the cross-body stretch.


Doorway External Rotation

This exercise can help people who have severe cases of frozen shoulder, because it involves a very minimal and gentle usage of the affected shoulder. Find a doorway and stand in the middle of it facing one side of the frame. Bend the affected arm at the elbow by a 90-degree angle and hold the edge of the door frame furthest from your body. Rotate your body away from the door frame so your affected arm is slightly stretched. Repeat this technique a few times, until you feel it start to loosen.


Supine Flexing

Lie down on a flat surface with your legs outstretched and your arms at the sides of your body. Lift your injured arm vertically upward and take it backwards over your head without bending it. Use your healthy arm to support your affected arm by holding it at the elbow as you stretch it further upward and backward, reaching towards the floor. Continue to stretch your arm this way until you feel a pull in your shoulder muscles. It is essential to support your injured arm with your other arm to prevent any further damage to your shoulder.

The important thing to remember is that these exercises need to be performed slowly because fast movements will only make the case worse and could also result in tears or damage to your muscle; and not to start any exercises without talking to a physical therapist for advice and instruction on the right way to do it, so you can avoid injury. So there you have it, physical therapy for frozen shoulder works and can be very beneficial to your healing process. For more information please visit our Clinics


How long does physical therapy take for frozen shoulder?

While there is no set time for long it takes physical therapy to resolve your frozen shoulder. It's important to understand that every case of frozen shoulder is different, one could be very severe and takes months to a year to resolve. On the other hand, with a mild case of frozen shoulder, you could see improvement within a few weeks to a few months, depending on your program your physical therapist has prescribed you.


What is the best treatment for a frozen shoulder?

One of the best treatments for frozen shoulder is working on range of motion exercises. Your physical therapist can help you determine which exercises will be best for your specific situation. The exercises your physical therapist would prescribe would be focused on improving the ROM (range of motion) in your shoulder. Your physical therapist can also help you manage the pain and give you direct advice on how to start using your arm normally again.


Can frozen shoulder go away on its own?

Yes, it can eventually go away on it's own. Typically it can take between 3-12 months to go away on its own. Sometimes it can take longer than 12 months, reaching a full 18 months before it's back to normal.


Can frozen shoulder be permanent?

Typically frozen shoulder is not permanent, meaning it will go away eventually. The time it takes to recover depends on the severity of the frozen shoulder and whether or not you are engaging in a rehabilitation program. Completely on its own, it may take several months to years to regain your full range of motion and even then some people may get to that point ever.


How can frozen shoulder be prevented?

If you feel like you might have frozen shoulder, early diagnosis and early treatment will certainly keep the condition from worsening. As far as prevention is concerned, daily exercise and stretches exercises (like the ones mentioned above in the article) will keep your body active which will help prevent stiffness in your shoulders.


Pro tip #1 - There are different kinds of physical therapy, click here to learn more.

Pro tip #2 - Therapeutic exercise can help alleviate other issues as well, click here to learn more.