Five Stretches for Frozen Shoulder

Posted by Stuart Hinds on

The 'Freezing Stage' (Phase One) of a frozen shoulder is a crucial time for starting a gentle stretching regimen. Gentle is the operative word.

Your shoulder is likely to be very inflamed at the beginning of this phase but gently stretching the capsule three times per day for five minutes can help stop the adhesions getting too tight.

If you are in too much pain, do as much as you can or stop completely for a few days. Remember to use ice or gels for pain relief.

If you are suffering from a frozen shoulder, hopefully, you will be receiving trigger point therapy in the form of the Niel Asher Technique.

As part of your treatment program, your therapist will usually recommend simple exercises to help keep the shoulder mobile.

Here are five great exercises that we recommend as they are simple for almost everyone to do at home:


1. Neck Stretching

After performing any exercises it helps to do some neck stretching. With a frozen shoulder, people tend to hold the shoulder in a tense protective posture.

This posture also pulls into the neck muscles causing stiffness and neck pain. Stretching out the neck will also help the neurological output to the shoulder as the nerves supplying the shoulder are in the neck.

Here is an easy stretch to start with:

• Stand upright in a good posture
• Lean your head away from the affected shoulder gently 
• You should feel a light stretch in the neck
• Maintain this stretch for about 10 seconds
• Repeat on the opposite side

• Do this 3 times on each side of the neck

If you want to increase the tension, put the hand on the same side as you are stretching onto the head (if you can) and lightly pull to increase the stretch.


2. Capsule Stretching

This important exercise is best done gently in between each treatment session. Start with this passive exercise before you add any weights.

It is very simple but easy to get wrong, so please follow the instructions carefully.

• Bend forward at the waist
• Let the affected arm drop towards the floor under its own weight
• Feel the sense of tugging and traction in the shoulder joint
• You can support your other hand on a chair
Move your body to make the hanging arm swing gently
• Use this method to swing or rock the arm in small to medium-sized clockwise circle
• Perform 3 times daily for 5-8 minutes

Note: You may want to use ice after this


3. Shoulder Shrugging

This can be performed up to five times daily for 2 – 5 minutes. You can move both shoulders at the same time and then independently.

Raise the shoulders up to the neck and push them downwards towards the floor. You can then gently rotate the shoulders in circles together then independently, again, take it nice and slow.

• Stand upright
• Shrug your shoulders upwards as high as you can for 8 seconds
• Let the shoulders drop
• Squeeze the shoulders downwards
• Repeat 3 times



4. Shoulder Rotation

• Stand upright
• Keep the hands by the sides
• Rotate the shoulder in a circle
• Change direction
• Repeat on the other arm
• Repeat slowly for 2 minutes


5. Pushing the Arm

The way to do it is very simple and can be done almost anywhere:

This is a good exercise to do when trying to relax the muscles of the shoulder.

• Stand upright near a wall or a door frame
• Keep your arm hanging straight down
• Push the arm against the door with about 20% of your strength

• Push for ten seconds then relax and repeat 3-4 times
• This can be done both forward, backward and to the side


Treating Frozen Shoulder NAT Foundation Course

Treating the Complex Shoulder NAT Master Course


About the author

Stuart Hinds is one of Australia’s leading soft tissue therapists, with over 27 years of experience as a practitioner, working with elite sports athletes, supporting Olympic teams, educating and mentoring others as well as running a highly successful clinic in Geelong.

Stuart has a strong following of practitioners across Australia and globally who tap into his expertise as a soft-tissue specialist. He delivers a range of highly sought after seminars across Australia, supported by online videos, webinars and one-on-one mentoring to help support his colleagues to build successful businesses.

In 2016, Stuart was awarded a lifetime membership to Massage & Myotherapy Australia for his significant support and contribution to the industry.


This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 

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