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Frozen shoulder patients must frequently perform a series to shoulder exercises and stretches in the days and weeks after their MCD procedure to help their shoulder fully recover.

Designed by professionals with extensive experience in the treatment of frozen shoulder adhesive capsulitis, the following stretches and exercises for frozen shoulder patients have been shown to accelerate patient recovery after the MCD procedure and help promote long-term shoulder health. 

These simple yet effective exercises can be performed at home and do not require specialized equipment. All that is needed is a bit of commitment on the part of the patient, a wall and a small ball (such as a tennis or lacrosse ball), to speed up their recovery.

Prior to performing these frozen shoulder exercises, patients are reminded to consult with our physical therapy specialists for advice on how to properly perform each movement and stretch.

Recommended Frequency of Adhesive Capsulitis Exercises

Note: Mobility restrictions in the frozen shoulder joint of the affected arm caused by adhesive capsulitis present challenges for physical therapy activities, but by strengthening and stretching the formerly frozen shoulder, patients are investing in their long-term shoulder health. Some discomfort in the frozen shoulder is normal and should be anticipated.

In the first four weeks following the MCD treatment, frozen shoulder patients should frequently stretch and strengthen the shoulder of the affected arm to promote the recovery of their mobility. 

Beginning with multiple times a day and gradually reducing in volume over the course of four weeks, this intensive physical therapy program is essential to ending frozen shoulder symptoms and restoring range of motion.

First Week

The first week will be difficult, and to properly complete this procedure will require discipline. Doing these exercises every hour on the first day (and every 2 hours on the second day) will no doubt affect the quality of your sleep.

Following Weeks

Frozen Shoulder Exercises

Arm Raises

Begin by standing in the corner of a room, facing the wall and raising the affected arm as high as possible. Place the raised hand on the wall beside you and slowly “walk” your hand up the wall with your fingers. 

When your arm is fully extended over your head, flatten your palm and keep the hand firmly against the wall. Hold this stretch for six seconds before lowering. If needed, use your other arm to help bring the affected arm back down slowly. Repeat two to three times.

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Hand Push into Wall

Begin by standing with your back against a wall and raising the elbow of your affected arm to shoulder height. With the assistance of your other arm, try to push the back of your hand into the wall behind you. 

With the help or your unaffected arm, keep this hand as close to the wall as possible and hold the stretch for six seconds. Relax and slowly bring the arm back down to your side. Repeat two to three times.

Hand Behind Back

Bring the affected hand behind your back, with the palm pointed behind you. Using your other hand to help pull, push the hand of the affected arm down and away from the shoulder. At the end of your range of motion, hold for the stretch for six seconds before slowly returning to your start point. Repeat two to three times.

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Head Wash

After lifting your affected hand over your head, move the hand in a continuous circular motion as you reach over to the opposite ear. Continue moving your hand in a circular motion for six seconds before relaxing and bringing the arm back to your side. Repeat two to three times.

Push-Up to Child's Pose

**Note: To make this exercise easier, use a plank position that starts from the knees, rather than the feet. **

Starting from a plank position (hands beneath the shoulders, legs together, with the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in a straight line), inhale as you slowly bend your elbows. 

Lower your body until the elbow joint is at a 90 degree angle. Exhale as you push into the ground to raise your body. While keeping the elbows slightly bent, move from the plank position into the child’s pose position (knees and feet on the floor, with the weight of the hips pushing back towards the heels, while the arms remain extended in front of your body). After several deep breaths, return to the plank position. Repeat two to three times.

Remember to move through the positions in this exercise at your own pace. Completing each repetition may take 15 to 20 seconds or more, depending on your overall health. 

Regardless of your condition, it’s important to take your time to get through each phase of the movement, using your own good judgement, in conjunction with any medical advice you have received, to gradually increase your range of motion and intensity.

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Overhead Raises

Bring your hands in front of your hips and interlock your fingers, with the palms facing in. Extend both arms and raise them together overhead. Once arms are overhead, straighten the elbows as much as possible, while trying to bring the arms in line, or slightly behind, the ears. Hold the overhead stretch for 6 seconds before relaxing and slowly lowering the arms. Repeat two to three times.

Overhead Cross

Bring your hands in front of your hips and cross your arms, with the affected arm on top. Interlock your fingers and raise both arms overhead.  Once arms are overhead, try to straighten the elbows and bring the arms in line, or slightly behind, the ears. Hold for the stretch six seconds before relaxing and slowly lowering the arms. Repeat two to three times.

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sleeping position

Ideal Sleeping Position

Less an exercise than a guideline, the ideal sleeping position to reduce shoulder pain and help recover from frozen shoulder symptoms involves keeping the arm overhead as much as possible. Many people find that sleeping face down with the arm extended is the most conducive body position.

Strengthening and Stretching the Shoulder Joint is Key to Recovering from Frozen Shoulder

As any physical therapist will tell you, sticking to a specialized course of therapy is key to ensuring the success of any treatment. Unlike some other shoulder problems (such as with a rotator-cuff related impingement that can be treated fairly quickly with anti-inflammatory medication), all medical advice suggests that for frozen shoulder, exercises and stretches are critically important to increase mobility and return the shoulder joint to a healthy condition.

Getting your body accustomed to new kinds of movement after months of stiff, frozen shoulders will pose a challenge for your body, but committing to your exercises and stretches following your treatment is the best thing you can do to invest in your long-term health.

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