Frozen shoulder syndrome (also known as adhesive capsulitis in medical terms) is a condition marked by pain, discomfort and limitation of movement across shoulder joints with “waxing waning” symptoms over time. It has been observed that the risk of developing adhesive capsulitis increases in certain medical or vascular conditions that limit the mobility of the upper limb. Shoulder exercises are generally recommended by healthcare providers to regain mobility and range of motion. Physical therapy maneuvers and exercises are especially effective in the stiffness and recovery stage. Best frozen shoulder exercises as suggested by healthcare experts are discussed below.
1. Shoulder Abduction
Physical therapists suggest active-passive exercises to restore joint range of motion.
- Attach a pulley to a door (as high and secure as possible).
- Use a chair or stool with your back facing the door and grasp the two ends of the pulley with both hands.
- Now extend your injured arm using pulley handle as fulcrum to the side of your body while using the non-injured arm as your overhead support.
- Now pull down the non-injured arm to the side of your body while extending and lifting the injured arm overhead.
This exercise is helpful in restoring full range of motion with minimal pain and discomfort.
2. Shoulder External Rotation
The basic principle governing all shoulder exercises in frozen shoulder treatment is to improve the range of motion by allowing passive movements with minimal discomfort. Moreover, since the weight of upper body is supported by pulleys, the movements are less stressful for the body that helps in directing all the force towards the joint components.
- For this exercise, secure the pulley around the door knob and extend your elbows while keeping your forearms parallel to the ground level.
- With gentle traction on injured arm, stretch your non-injured arm and rotate the pulley strings between the two arms alternately.
It is very important to perform all shoulder stretching exercises with your elbows fully extended. This exercise involves securing a pulley on top of a door or with a hook on the wall.
- Once pulley is secure, stand straight with your back supported by the wall.
- Now using pulley handle, lift your normal arm in the air in full-extended motion, while your injured arm is stretched by the side of your body (shoulder joint is flexed in this position).
- Hold the position for a few seconds and extend your injured arm overhead while your normal arm is stretched by the side of your body.
This exercise helps in decreasing stiffness by promoting joint activity in vertical motion.
4. Arm Circles
Arm circle is a common fitness exercise that is often advised to athletes to improve their overall range of motion.
- Place your left hand on your left shoulder and try to make small circles in the air.
- Start off by making small circles and gradually increase the size and circumference of the circle by using elbow joint as the center of focus.
- After making at least 20 clockwise circles, make 20 counter- clockwise circles.
- Repeat the activity with right side.
The most beneficial aspect of this exercise is increased flow of blood across the joint capsule and tissues that increase the pace of healing.
5. Back Clasp
Black clasp is another exercise that primarily aims at improving the flexibility of shoulder muscles and joint ligaments. It ensures pain-free movements and restoration of full range of motion.