Exercises for Frozen Shoulder

Finishing up this month’s Injury of the Month on Exercises for Frozen Shoulder was very eye opening for me.

I have been doing most of what I learned when I dug into the research, but I want to highlight 4 things that stood out in my search for frozen shoulder exercises.

#4 – Heat Up Your Frozen Shoulder Prior to Exercise

This is a point that I never knew.

I know when clients go to physical therapy, this is often done. But after they finish physical therapy, their is no encouragement to continue doing this, yet the research shows that it should be continued.

Leung 2008 made this comment in their research:

  1. Heat ends up changing the viscoelastic properties of connective tissue.
  2. Heat promotes vasodialation leading to better nutrition and oxygen supply and metabolite waste removal.
  3. Heat also increases pain tolerance.

The researchers used machines to create deep tissue heating, but they also commented that similar results could be reached with a hot pack on the shoulder.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE ON EXERCISES FOR FROZEN SHOULDER => Heat up your frozen shoulder prior to doing your exercises.

#3 – Perform Pain-Free Frozen Shoulder Exercises

I always have explained this to my clients and everyone that has attended my Exercise Rehabilitation of the Shoulder course: frozen shoulder exercises should be performed in pain-free ranges of motion.

Diercks 2004 proved it.  They compared aggressive and painful frozen shoulder exercises with performing pain-free frozen shoulder exercises. Those that did pain-free frozen shoulder exercises had better results.

I have been teaching this but it is nice now to have evidence that backs up what I say and do.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE ON FROZEN SHOULDER EXERCISES => Perform all frozen shoulder exercise in pain-free ranges of motion.  Pushing into the pain leads to poor results when it comes to shoulder pain and shoulder range of motion.

#2 – Scapular Exercises for Frozen Shoulder

I have been on this bandwagon for a long time.

Scapular exercises are very important for shoulder health and shoulder injuries.

Celik 2010 showed how important they are when it comes to frozen shoulder.

When someone with frozen shoulder is assessed, the scapula is fixed during assessmen to put greater emphasis on the shoulder joint (glenohumeral).  After a confirmed diagnosis, often times the exercises just focus on the shoulder joint.

Celik showed the importance of doing specific scapular stabilization exercises to help with range of motion, shoulder pain and frozen shoulder recovery.

In the paper he goes through 10 scapular exercises for frozen shoulder.  I have included them along with photos, descriptions and videos of the exercises in the Frozen Shoulder Solution program.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE ON FROZEN SHOULDER EXERCISES => Do scapular exercises for frozen shoulder.

#1 – Chronic Conditions Increase Your Risk of Frozen Shoulder

This one for me was shocking.

Tighe 2008 did research on how big of a problem frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) was for diabetics.

Diabetics have about a 39% chance of getting frozen shoulder while those that are pre-diabetic have a 33% chance (WoW!).

The chances are good if you are diabetic you will get a frozen shoulder. If you have any diabetic clients, soon enough you will have a client with frozen shoulder.

One more thing.  Doctors that are diagnosing patients with frozen shoulder are performing follow up tests to see if they have diabetes or another systemic disease.

Very interesting.


TAKE HOME MESSAGE ON FROZEN SHOULDER EXERCISES => Those that are diabetic have an increased chance of getting frozen shoulder.  Those with frozen shoulder, might have something else going on so have your doctor look into it.

Research on Exercises for Frozen Shoulder

Here are the references for above, if you want go to the source of what I am talking about.  You can go buy and read all of these research articles. Also, I reviewed another 14 papers on exercises for frozen shoulder in the Frozen Shoulder Solution program:

  • Bal A, Eksioglu E, Gulec B, Aydog E, Gurcay E, Cakci A. (2008). Effectiveness of corticosteroid injection in adhesive capsulitis. Clin Rehabil. 2008 Jun;22(6):503-12.
  • Celik D. (2010). Comparison of the outcomes of two different exercise programs on frozen shoulder. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2010;44(4):285-92. doi: 10.3944/AOTT.2010.2367.
  • Diercks RL, Stevens M. (2004). Gentle thawing of the frozen shoulder: a prospective study of supervised neglect versus intensive physical therapy in seventy-seven patients with frozen shoulder syndrome followed up for two years. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2004 Sep-Oct;13(5):499-502.
  • Leung MS, Cheing GL. (2008). Effects of deep and superficial heating in the management of frozen shoulder. J Rehabil Med. 2008 Feb;40(2):145-50.
  • Tighe CB, Oakley WS Jr. (2008). The prevalence of a diabetic condition and adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. South Med J. 2008 Jun;101(6):591-5.

That is it.  I hope this helps you if you have frozen shoulder or if you have a client with frozen shoulder.  If you would like to check out the 3-stage, 7-step exercise program that I use for frozen shoulder, you can check it out here:

Rick Kaselj, MS

P.S. – I just got this feedback from one of my other Injuries of the Month:

“The Achilles Tendinitis Exercise Program is the NO BS, 100% reliable program. I read your blogs and posts daily and one thing I really love is that I can trust what you say (meaning a confident road to recovery)!

I also appreciate that you put the program in video form with step by step instructions and thorough, concise explanations. For a non-expert such as myself, it really helps me understand the program as a whole because there is no jargon.

Not only do you describe these exercises and its purposes in the presentations, you have additional videos dedicated to these specific exercises.

The Achilles Tendinitis Exercise program is extremely comprehensible for the average exercise blog reader yet detailed enough for someone who constantly reads Rick’s and other coaches’ newsletters to learn new things. The program is very valuable.”

Janila L

Before I finally go, I just recorded this.  Here is one more video about Frozen Shoulder Exercises: