How to Un- Freeze a Frozen Shoulder - Stretches and Treatment

Written by Kevin McVay


Our team of professional massage therapists are here to help - we understand the treatment and the condition.

Frozen shoulder is a painful condition in which the shoulder becomes stiff and inflamed, and movement becomes limited. Adhesive capsulitis or the common name of frozen shoulder, causes pain and over time, the shoulder becomes extremely hard to move and it gets worse as time goes on. Do you remember the adage: “Move it or lose it”?

With this condition, the shoulder capsule thickens and becomes stiff and tight. Thick bands of tissue called adhesions develop. In many cases, there is less lubricating fluid in the joint, which would help to make movement easier. Imagine what would happen if all the oil were drained out of the engine in your car. The hallmark signs of this condition are severe pain and being unable to move your shoulder, either on your own or with the help of someone else. It develops in three stages:

 Freezing stage: Any movement of your shoulder causes pain with limited range of motion 

 Frozen stage: Shoulder becomes stiffer, and using it becomes more difficult 

 Thawing stage:  Range of motion begins to improve

You can help speed up the recovery process with a variety of treatments including range-of-motion exercises and, sometimes, corticosteroids or surgery.  However, it is best to explore body treatment options such as massage and stretch therapists before those more extreme and time-consuming measures.  

By being informed you can cut your recovery time in half. You do not need to suffer for months or years on end. You simply need the right treatment. You need to promote healthy blood flow to your shoulder joint and get it moving again.  

The chance of a frozen shoulder can be prevented or at least lessened if advanced massage/stretch therapy is combined with physical therapy and started shortly after any shoulder injury in which shoulder movement is painful or difficult.  

In addition to therapy, self-care “homework” will be extremely important in the speed and efficiency of recovery.  This includes hot and cold compresses, to help reduce pain and swelling, range of motion exercises and stretches with the use of massage guns, foam rollers, and with ointments such as CBD. 

Having the right mindset can also be helpful. If your mind is telling you when I move my arm it hurts, sometimes it is not totally accurate. Let us say if moving your arm to 10 o’clock hurts, does it hurt the same at 9:45?  By moving your arm to a point of just being uncomfortable, but not painful, is the first step. The next time you try this, maybe you can get to 9:50. Slow baby steps! 

A major goal is to be able to bring your arm over your head. The Game Plan should be a movement you can improve with each day. Here are a few good movements to do daily!

Frozen Shoulder Exercises: 

  1. Top Left: 
    • Place towel in one hand behind the back.  Grasp end of towel with other hand.  Slowly crawl fingers toward each other.  Repeat on the other side
  2. Middle Picture:
    •  Left picture there are 2 exercises that should be done daily! 
    • First is hanging arm circles.  Rest one arm on a table and let the frozen shoulder arm hang off the side of the table.  Move the arm forward and backward 10 times.  Then move the arm in circular motions (both directions) 10 times.  Move your body along with the arm motion as to not engage too much of the shoulder muscles 
    • Second exercise is crawling the wall.  Stand facing a wall and inchworm with you fingers from chest height to full extension overhead and back down.  Repeat 10 times.
  3. Top Right:
    • Place towel in one hand behind the back.  Grasp end of towel with other hand.  Pull top of towel down.  Slowly saw back and forth.  Repeat on the other side.

Tri-Covery Professionals 

Our team is dedicated to identifying each client's unique challenges and developing a treatment plan. Our team of highly credentialed therapists are well versed in not only Plantar Fasciitis but other pain based massage treatments.  Please contact our office today, or visit our online scheduling tool to start your personal treatment. 

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