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Frozen Shoulder Stretches & Exercises

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in October of 2022. For the original video go to

Brad: All right, Bob, frozen shoulder. You can begin these exercises once you're out of the inflammatory phase and you're in the freezing or the thawing phase.

Bob: We have seven exercises for you.

Brad: If you're not familiar with the inflammatory phase, that's when you first get it, it's very tender, it's sore, and you may get a shot of cortisone from your doctor.

Bob: Might even hurt at night.

Brad: Yep, and once you get through that, there are two more phases, and these exercises will jumpstart you and get you going.

Bob: Excellent.

Brad: All right, the first exercise, get yourself a dumbbell, two to three pounds is adequate, or something in that range.

Bob: A soup can would work.

Brad: What we're going to do is called a pendulum, a very common exercise for the shoulder. You stand hinged at the hip, put your arm on something to support your body weight, and let the arm just relax and start swinging it. The idea is the weight helps momentum.

Bob: And break those adhesions.

Brad: Exactly, get that scar tissue broken up a little sooner than later. Forward and backward.

Bob: It can be a little sore, but not a lot of pain.

Brad: Yeah, if it's creating sharp pain, it's not ready for it. A little bit's okay. Do this for two to three minutes and do that two or three times a day.

Bob: Sure. Like an elephant.

Brad: Oh, an elephant’s trunk, yeah. You can think of it that way. All right, the next one is the Statue of Liberty stretch. You will need a stick four to five feet long. It doesn't have to be a Booyah Stik, you can use a mop handle.

Bob: Or a broomstick.

Brad: A piece of Dowling, whatever it is. You're either going to put it on the ground or on the chair that you're sitting on. I'm going to put mine on the ground and it works, you'll see. Take your sore, tight shoulder and that's the one you're going to walk up as far as you can until you tighten the shoulder up, it's as much stretch as you can get. Good posture and lean forward.

Bob: It pulls.

Brad: Yeah, you'll feel it pull on that shoulder. You get really good leverage. That leverage is a big advantage for this particular diagnosis.

Bob: So, what if my broomstick slips?

Brad: Yes, now the Booyah Stick has a nice rubber bottom, so it won't slip. If you have something that's slipping, take your shoe, put it in the shoe and that'll help grip it and that'll work well.

Bob: Then after you do it once, you can go up again.

Brad: Yep, and you'll notice after a few days or a week or two you're getting up higher. You get to the top of the stick, man, you're feeling good. Good stretch. And then if you start on the floor, you can move the stick up to the chair. Put the shoe up in there and do it just like Bob was.

Brad: All right, number three coming up. This is one of my favorites. The next one we call the paddling because it's just like if you've ever canoed, it's like you're paddling a canoe. With the shoulder that is stiff, I'm going to grab about the middle of the pole and push it back like this and stretch it so that we get that extension. We don't only want to stretch forward, but we want to go backward into extension.

Bob: Again, slight pain is okay.

Brad: Yep, 5 to 10 repetitions so you go back, hold and stretch. Hold and stretch. I do this one.

Bob: Every morning, right?

Brad: Yep, as a maintenance program and I just do 10 on a side. It takes me less than 30 seconds. But if you have a frozen shoulder you're going to spend a little more time with it than that. I would do the other arm as well if you can.

Bob: Right. Keep it limber.

Brad: All right. Number four, you're going to start with that same stick again and you're going to grab it with both hands in front of you, palms away from you so your thumbs will be out. We’re going to simply go out to the side. We call this abduction. It will probably not go as high as flexion but whatever you do, just do the same thing. Stretch and relax. 10 times do those two or three times a day. This is a relatively easy stretch, very similar to the paddle. Just out through the side. Okay, the next one is what we call twists, like the peppermint twist or whatever it is. Anyways, take that same stick, and bring your hands about a foot apart or so. You can do this lying on your back or standing like Bob is and kind of like you're a helicopter and we're getting some rotation stretch on the shoulders right, which is important for functional things like driving a car or opening a doorknob. Do about 10 of them.

Bob: You're doing a good job, Brad.

Brad: Do them as much as you can throughout the day, at least three times.

Bob: We have two more.

Brad: Number six, this one's a little more complicated until you do it once or twice and then it's very easy. The arm holding at the bottom is the involved, tight shoulder. You take your stick, grab it behind your back with the palm away from your body, and grab it above with your good arm.

Bob: The top palm facing the body.

Brad: Yeah, good point. And make sure you have a shirt on, so it slides on your shirt and as it comes up, it's a nice stretch. This is a good stretch to do for a healthy shoulder, frozen shoulder, it's going to probably be later on as you get more flexible. So, to get to that position, this is the way I explain it to my patients. Put your stick there, thumb down, palm away from you, grab it, lift it up and go over the top of your head with your forearm and then you're there. And simply stretch away.

Bob: Beware of splinters.

Brad: Yeah, if you've got a piece of Dowling, make sure it's varnished, or you don't have any splinters on it so you don't have to do to the urgent care and have a doctor pulling out splinters or your spouse. All right, and the last one. The last one is near the end of the phase to get the maximum range of motion. You can do this if you have the pull-up bars at home. We're going to do some hanging. One thing that's nice is to go against the wall so you can use the wall to control how much intensity the stretch is.

Bob: It adds some support.

Brad: We are using our Pull Up System.

Bob: And it's tremendously on sale, Brad.

Brad: That's right, they're like half off right now. $50 and they work really well for pull-ups, but we're not going to do the pull-up for a frozen shoulder. All right, so whether you're doing your chin-up bar or the pull-up bar, like I said, if you can get your back against the wall, I'm sliding down. You may only get a little way down to start out with. As it improves, use more body weight. The friction in my body against the wall is really nice, it really helps you to control the descent down and the intensity of the stretch.

Bob: Yeah, it's good for your back, too.

Brad: Oh, yeah, decompression of the back, shoulders, this is a wonderful thing.

Bob: It makes Brad taller.

Brad: Yeah. Eventually, you can see I'm just hanging here, and I do these daily and so does Bob, just as a maintenance program for the shoulders and the spine. All right, that was number seven. I'm feeling taller, my shoulders are stretched. It’s definitely a good waker-upper in the morning, as well.

Bob: Yep, you look good, Brad.

Brad: Well, thank you, Bob, wow.

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