7 Best Frozen Shoulder Exercises & Stretches – Ask Doctor Jo


hey everybody it’s Doctor Jo and Mr. Bear, and today we’re gonna show you the top seven stretches and exercise for frozen shoulders. so let’s get started. so the first stretch is using a pulley system. this is my favorite stretch, especially for frozen shoulder because a lot of times if you’re in the clinic and your therapist is stretching you out, sometimes subconsciously you’re tightening up, but if you’re using a pulley you can completely relax. so I’ve got mine just hooked up to the ceiling, but a lot of the pulley systems you can hook them into your door, so it makes it really easy to use if you don’t want to buy a pulley. and they’re there probably 10 to 15 bucks. you can actually just use a jump rope get a little hook and use a jump rope, so it’s really just something to help pull it up. so what you want to do is if it’s my right side that’s my frozen shoulder, I would start down low because as you know with a frozen shoulder, that adhesive capsulitis it’s really tight in there and painful. so the the right side the one that’s hurt is just going along for the ride. I’m pulling with my left side so the first one is just going straight up into a shoulder flexion. so I’m pulling down and this one’s just going up, I’m not lifting it up, so if I if there’s slack in the rope like that, then that means I’m trying to lift it up. you’re not you’re pulling it up with the other side, it’s a pulley so just come up get a little stretch. if this is as far as you can go, that’s fine. if this is as far as you can go, that’s fine, but a lot of times when people use the pulley they find that they can stretch it just a little bit further. you don’t have to hold it there again just maybe a two to three second pause, and then just do a smooth continuous motion. I usually have my patients just start off with a minute in each direction. you can work your way up to 3 to 5 minutes if you want to, but I wouldn’t go too crazy the first couple times you do it. you can also then turn your elbows out and do like an abduction. so now I’m going up this way, but it’s still the same concept with the pulley where I’m pulling down with that left arm to bring that right arm up. so it should be completely relaxed. and a lot of times you’re going to get a lot more stretch with that because it’s it’s comfortable, it’s easy to do, and you’re in control, and that’s always the biggest component of that. but if you don’t have something like that, that’s okay I’ll show you some other exercises. so the next stretches or exercises it can be counted as both, are pendulums. I really like pendulums as well because it’s the same thing as the pulleys, you’re really relaxed. you’re kind of doing a passive movement with it. you can do it’s kind of active assisted if you want to, I’m going to use just a little weight. this is just a soup can, so maybe about a pound at the most. you don’t have to do it with the weight, but I like using weight because a lot of times just letting it hang really opens up that joint when you’ve got that shoulder, frozen shoulder. it’s really really tight in there and that just kind of it just gives it a nice little bit of traction to kind of open everything up. so just get a chair counter top so you can lean forward, and let that arm just hang down. so what you want to do is really get most of the movement with your body. so you’re not necessarily doing this. you can since this is not a surgical thing where you maybe shouldn’t be doing it actively, but if you’re doing it passively a lot of times it really does help relax those muscles more. so if you’re actively moving a little bit with this one, that’s okay but what I like to do is just really move your whole body. put your hips into it and then just make some circles with it. so I probably start off with just 10 one way and then reverse it and do 10 the other way. so you can see I am actively moving it just a little bit, but a lot of the swing is really coming from my body, and that just feels so good at opening up that joint. so then you can also do a side to side. so now I’m just going to kind of sway back and forth this way. and again it’s just it just feels so good, this kind of having that hang of that arm with that movement in there it really just makes that shoulder feel good. and then same thing maybe 10 this way, and then you can also do a front back. so kind of get almost in a lunge position and then just rock front to back, back and forth. and so again you can do 10. you can work your way up just doing a minute kind of swinging back and forth, but this is really a good way to start with the pulleys and pendulums, just to really loosen up that shoulder get some of those adhesions out of there and then go into some stretches and exercises. so I’m gonna do some sitting down now. so now going into with some more exercises, this one is a scapular or shoulder squeeze. this is great just to kind of open up that chest. a lot of times with the frozen shoulder, we kind of roll our shoulders forward, so getting a squeeze in there is really good just kind of help things start moving and then strengthen those upper back muscles. so with a scapular squeeze, what you want to do is imagine my hand or somebody’s hand is right on your spine in your back, and what you want to do is squeeze those shoulder blades back like you’re trying to pinch somebody’s hand. the key is though is to keep your shoulders down and really use the muscles this way. so you can use your elbows, but you don’t just want to squeeze it with your elbows, you want to activate those muscles to get the squeeze. so keep those shoulders down. if you want to squeeze with the elbows kind of give yourself a target you can, but you’re really just squeezing back and then holding it for about three to five seconds. so you can use your elbows to get that squeeze, or you can just kind of squeeze them back like that if you feel like you’re using your elbows just a little too much. so we can just holding that three to five seconds, do five to ten of those. and then once you feel like those are easy, then you can go to the next exercise which is rows. which is kind of combining the two of them together, and then using a resistive band. so with the resistive bands, make sure you start off with the lightest one. this is a thera-band and the thera-band series this is the next one up, so it goes yellow then red, but I would always start with the lightest band, and depending on what brand it is they might be different colors. so just make sure you check. so with the rows, you want to anchor the band. you can do it on a door, you can do it on your feet. I like it with my feet just because then I can kind of do the exercise anywhere, but you’re just going to prop your feet out a little bit and you want to keep your thumbs in an upwards position and keep your elbows close to your sides, just like you’re rowing a boat. but you’re adding in that scapular squeeze at the end. so now you’re just kind of making a combination move and getting some resistive resistance with it. so I’m squeezing back and then giving that nice squeeze at the end. the biggest thing with a band is make sure you’re controlling it. so don’t come back and then just pop it back because that’s probably gonna hurt your shoulder anyways, but really try and control that band because even the coming back part is equally as important. so with the bands even if you’re not feeling a lot of pain, I’d probably just start off with ten maybe two sets of ten. you can do that once or twice a day to start off with and see how you feel and if you don’t feel like it’s causing any pain or a lot of soreness, then you can start kind of bumping it up from there and do two to three sessions a day. but I would start off again with a little bit less and then progress yourself to some more because a lot of times that shoulder frozen shoulder it’s really really painful. so then after you do some of the exercises, now you want to get some of the tougher motions a lot of times with the frozen shoulder, reaching back behind you like if you want to wash your back or of course that little pocket the itches all the time, that’s hard to get to with frozen shoulder. it’s even harder because that internal rotation movement is one of the toughest ones that joint capsule that has those adhesions in there is really kind of binding it down. so this is really hard and painful to do. so a good way to kind of stretch that internal rotation behind the back is to use a towel or a belt but you wanted to be something solid, so you don’t want it to be those resistive bands. this time take it on the opposite side. so if it’s my left side that needs to stretching, I’m gonna put it on my right side and just put it behind me. then I’m gonna grab it, now I understand that a lot of times when frozen shoulder this might be as high as you can go. so just holding it there and then pull upwards to get that stretch. so the goal is just to bring it up as high as you can. again you might not be able to get this far when you’re starting. you might just be able to go from here to here which is fine. you don’t force it into just so much pain that you can barely stand it because you want to hold it once you get there. start off with 10 to 15 seconds, do maybe five or ten of those. eventually try and work yourself up to thirty seconds. holding it and doing that three times. so just really getting that good stretch in there. for the next I’m gonna need a Swiss ball or some people call it a therapy ball or a stability ball. if you don’t have one of these you can just use a countertop or a table. I really like the ball just because it gives you that extra stretch and it’s also slightly unstable so you’re working some stability in that shoulder as well when you’re stretching. if you can’t get down on the floor and be on your knees like this that’s okay, but if you do have a Swiss ball you can still put you can put this on a table or a coffee table or a countertop and then just stand and do it, but I feel like if you’re able to get on the floor this is going to give you a little bit better stretch. so all you’re going to do is just kind of get in this position where you’re you know just kind of have your hands on top here, and then just roll it forward to get the stretch in your shoulders. so you can do one at a time or do them together. when you do them together it’s not quite as much of a stretch, but again if you have that frozen shoulder, this might be as far as you can go which is okay. if you can go with one sometimes you get that little bit better stretch, but see how I have to kind of stabilize that ball with my arm and my shoulder, and that’s what gives it a little bit of an extra exercise to the stretch. but just rolling it out and then holding it for maybe three to five seconds. so this one doesn’t have to be a full hold it’s more kind of a continuous motion. if you want to hold it longer you can, but again this gives you a really really good stretch in that shoulder. so just kind of rolling out and pushing it. so again if you can only go to right here just start off with because that shoulder so tight, that’s okay. just once you get there then just kind of push down into it a little bit or give it that little bit more of a stretch and then come back. but eventually you should be able to go further and further to when you can get all the way down here and stretch it. and that’s a really really great stretch, but that might take awhile. that might take you know maybe even a month before you can get that far so don’t feel like you have to force it. just give it a really really good stretch. so the stretch that I like to end with is a prayer stretch, or child’s pose. it’s a really great stretch for your shoulder. it gets down into the lats and your back and everything that come goes all the way down into your lower back and then your glutes as well. but it’s just a great stretch to end with. especially with that frozen shoulder because it helps just kind of relax your whole body. so all you’re going to do is on your knees you can put your arms out in front of you. I like if you have that frozen shoulder to actually bring your thumbs up going down into the prayer stretch. I know a lot of times people don’t do it that way, but just come down and really try and stretch those shoulders out. so this one would be a full 30 second hold and again you might not be able to go that low. you might not be able to get this much Bend with your knees. so even if you’re coming up you know and kind of stretching like this, but you’re using that bodyweight to stretch it out, and then just really go down into that stretch. and this is where you can do some deep breathing just kind of relax your body. again 30 seconds three times, or if you just want to maybe hold it for a minute or two just to really relax your whole body than that’s you can do that as well. so there you have it those were my top seven stretches and exercises for frozen shoulder. yeah right. if you’d like to help support my channel, make sure and click on the link up there. and don’t forget to subscribe by clicking down there, down there right yeah. and remember be safe, have fun, and I hope you feel better soon.

17 thoughts on “7 Best Frozen Shoulder Exercises & Stretches – Ask Doctor Jo

  1. My age is 21 I have frozen shoulder and frozen neck from last 1.5 years but before that I wasn't doing any kind of exercise or medicine I wasn't serious about my Injury but now I'm serious to recover it ,
    Is it possible that. Can completely recover my should ?

  2. Thanks for information Doc….I’m starting to get to the thawing stage(after 5+ months) doing stretches and moving it in my pool 🏊🏼. What a horrible experience this has been since I’m a golf professional 😢….thanks for positive delivery, as well as excellent explanations. I’ll incorporate these new stretches. Kevin

  3. Hi doctor … I have a big knot in my back because of my poor posture and I try everything to get of it it cause me pain do you have any suggestions?

  4. Dx with Frozen Shoulder 2mo ago (along with ultrasound showing bicep tendinitis). When doing these exercises, how much pain is too much pain post-workout. A common concern (and observation) among FS patients is that aggressive stretch/exercises prolongs the disease. Any tips on how to find the right balance given this video workout? Thanks.

  5. Thanks for your detailed instruction. It's very helpful. I am seeing a PT now and he's having me use the pulley and the towel behind my back. (Actually, a dog leash but who has to know?) He's also got me placing a pole behind my neck with my hands draped over it. Then twist my upper body. These plus his mobilization stretches with his arms and hands have resulted in considerable improvement in the first week. Massage was having zero effect. Plus I'm glad to know the technical name for FS. I'll wow everybody down at the diner now. I've been mystified why I got this since the precipitating event was just lightly tossing a pebble off to the side, not falling out of a tree.

    Thanks for your effort and your pleasant personality is nice too! :–)

  6. Thank you SO much for that video! I've had a frozen shoulder for about 1 1/2 years now and I really need to do something about it. I think this will help SO MUCH! I can already feel some relief after just one time! THANK YOU!!!! <3

  7. thank you so much for this video! i needed to see what other movements I could do that I haven’t already done, and I’ve picked up a few new ones from this video! I’m 23 and I’m going on my 10th month with Frozen Shoulder caused by a shoulder dislocation. I got a MUA about 2 weeks ago and it’s helped a little Range of motion wise but this painnnnn ain’t no joke! Ive been going to PT for about 5 months, and just recent been going every single day. I hope I get back to normal soon ! 😊💜

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