Frozen shoulder: 5 exercises to fix your pain and improve mobility

Wondering if exercising will trigger shoulder pain if you have a frozen shoulder? Exercising with a frozen shoulder might actually be helpful.
Exercises for frozen shoulder
Get relief from frozen shoulder with some of these exercises. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 12 Apr 2023, 10:30 am IST
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There are times when you feel stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. That’s called frozen shoulder, and it’s something that can make it difficult to do even simple things such as hooking a bra. Going for physiotherapy is the most common way to feel better. While some people suggest you should rest, others feel exercising can bring relief in such conditions. Let us check out what experts have to say about exercising with a frozen shoulder.

Health Shots connected with Dr Sunil Rajpal (PT), Deputy Head, department of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai and celebrity trainer Praveen Nair to know about exercising and frozen shoulder.

frozen shoulder
You can try these exercises if you have a frozen shoulder. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Some people might end up feeling shoulder stiffness due to an injury. Others might wake up with a frozen shoulder.

Dr Rajpal says that in this condition, you will see three stages. First, there is freezing (painful), then there is frozen (stiffness) and finally, the thawing (recovery) stage. He says rest may be necessary during the painful stage, but it is important to begin exercising as soon as possible to prevent the shoulder from becoming stiffer and more painful. While physiotherapy can be beneficial, exercises can help in gaining the strength and flexibility of the shoulder. Dr Rajpal suggests that these exercises can be started as soon as the initial pain and inflammation has subsided.

Exercises for frozen shoulder

Recovery in frozen shoulder cases can take some time. Here’s what you can do if you are ready to exercise!

1. Internal rotation belt stretch

A great stretch for increasing shoulder mobility is the shoulder rotation stretch, says Nair. It is a secure and effective technique to help regain shoulders, joint and bicep tendon muscles’ natural range of motion after an injury.

How to do it

• Get a rope and begin by dragging it across your hips while holding the engaged hand behind your back.
• For about 5 to 10 seconds, hold it then repeat twice for one minute each.
• Pull the rope with the non-involved hand while holding the affected hand under your back to move the backhand up the spine. You can do this two more times.

frozen shoulder
You should take your own time before exercising. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Posterior capsule stretch

It will help to improve the range of motion and internal rotation in your shoulders.

How to do it


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• Apply tensile stress with your involved side while crossing your non-involved arm over your chest.
• Two repeats of one minute of holding should be done.

3. Armpit stretch

It will look like you are trying to smell your own armpit, but this is helpful for people with frozen shoulder.

How to do it

• Using your arm that’s not hurting, lift the affected one onto a shelf about breast-high.
• Gently bend your knees while opening up the armpit.
• Try to deepen your knee and bend slightly. Then gently stretch the armpit and straighten up.
• With each knee bend, stretch a little further, but don’t force it. Do this 10 to 20 times each day.

4. Outward rotation

Nair says that the infraspinatus muscle, a vital member of the rotator cuff, is the objective of the external rotation exercise. The shoulder joint benefits from some stability provided by the rotator cuff muscles. The humerus, or long arm bone, is rotated away from the body by the infraspinatus muscle.

How to do it

• With your elbows at a 90-degree angle and close to your sides, hold a rubber exercising band in between your hands.
• Rotate the affected arm’s lower portion up to three inches outward and hold the position for five seconds.
• Do this once per day, and practice 10 to 15 times.

5. Inward rotation

A workout for the shoulder that is frequently forgotten is internal rotation. But it is crucial since it aids in rotator cuff strength, boosts shoulder joint stability, and enhances range of motion.

How to do it

• Place yourself next to a locked door and wrap the doorknob with one side of a rubber exercising band.
• Hold the opposite end while bending your elbow to a 90-degree angle with the hands of the affected arm.
• Bring the band two to three inches closer to your body, then hold the position for five seconds.
• Do this once every day, and practice 10 to 15 times.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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