A frozen shoulder is so-called because it refers to symptoms of a stiff and painful shoulder when the joint is unable to perform its usual range of motion. Shoulder pain can often become more pronounced at night, making it difficult to sleep. Around 3% of us will experience frozen shoulder in our lifetime1. It’s more common between the ages of 40 – 70 and to those that use insulin to treat diabetes.
Frozen shoulder treatment
Because it’s a painful condition, frozen shoulder treatment usually begins with pain relief – over the counter medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen. If the pain is severe, a doctor might prescribe steroid painkilling injections.
If pain is consistent or a condition becomes chronic, medical-grade devices like BioWaveGO can also help. Our pain blocking technology blocks pain at the nerve, providing up to eight hours of relief from frozen shoulder pain after just one 30-minute treatment.
However you decide to treat the pain, once it becomes less acute it’s important to start moving your shoulder again. Exercises specifically designed to aid frozen shoulder will help to return the full range of motion to the joint.
Find out more about shoulder pain relief.
Shoulder Exercises at Home
These six simple exercises will help you stretch out a sore shoulder joint, whether a frozen shoulder or general neck and shoulder pain. They can all be done at home easily. For the best results, always stretch to the point of tension, but not pain.
- Pendulum stretch
Relax your shoulders and lean over slightly, allowing the affected arm to hang down loosely. Once it’s hanging, swing the arm around in a circle – about half a metre in diameter. Do this 10 times clockwise and 10 times anti-clockwise, ideally once a day. When you feel ready, you can increase this stretch by adding a weight to your affected arm.
- Flat arc
Lie down on the floor with your legs completely straight and relax both arms at the side of your body. With the help of your good arm, lift the affected arm vertically in the air and then back towards the floor. Keep moving the arm until you feel the stretch.
- Cane/towel stretch
For this stretch, you’ll need a cane or towel – something about the width of your body.
Stand up holding the cane or towel horizontally behind your back with your arms shoulder-width apart. Your knuckles should be facing the ground. Lift both arms upwards behind you so that you feel a stretch.
If you feel ready, you can try this stretch by lifting just the affected arm upwards, keeping your good arm in place behind you.
It’s recommended that you repeat this 10 – 20 times a day.
- Cross-body reach
Sitting or standing, use your good arm to lift the arm with the affected shoulder across your body. Exert gentle pressure to stretch the shoulder and hold that stretch for 15 – 20 seconds.
It’s recommended that you repeat the cross-body reach between 10 to 20 times per day.
More Shoulder Injury Exercises
When your range of motion starts to increase, you can add a rotator cuff (a rubber exercise band) to start strengthening the shoulder further.
Before attempting the following exercises, it’s important that the joint is warm. Taking a warm shower or bath or using a heat pad before you start will help you to move more easily and ensures that the exercises are more effective.
- Outward rotation
With your elbows at 90 degrees to your sides, hold the rotator cuff between your hands. Move the lower part of your affected arm outwards by about 5cm and hold for 5 seconds.
- Inward rotation
Hook the rotator cuff around the door handle of a closed door and hold the other end of the cuff with your affected arm. Again, your elbow should be at 90 degrees to your side. Pull the cuff 5cm towards your body and hold for five seconds.
It’s recommended that both these rotation exercises are repeated 10 – 15 times a day.