Awhile back I penned a little article on frozen shoulder here on the Brio website, I wrote about the  abuses, treatments and the anatomy involved with this condition. I also touched upon some exercises you can do to help alleviate the discomfort from frozen shoulder. With this article, I hope to go a little further and give you some more simple but effective ideas for mobility exercises and stretches using everyday objects you can find at hom

You will need:

  • A chair
  • A can of beans or light dumbbell weight, if you got them
  • A broom stick, if you can, take off the business end of the sweeper or mop and use the stick

Pendulum Swings

The most commonly prescribed exercise for frozen shoulder would have to be pendulum swings.

Holding onto the back of a chair with your good arm, take the can, or the dumbbell with your affected side and lean forward, so your arm hangs perpendicular to the floor. Start little circles with a relaxed arm. 

It is too easy to then start a ‘stirring’ motion with a stiff arm, especially if there is some discomfort happening with this exercise.

In order to avoid this, it helps to get your legs and hips involved, gently swaying back and forth, and side to side, while your arm freely dangles and is passively mobilized by the movements of your body. Keep your feet in place but move your knees and hips. 

Try this exercise for 3 to 5 minutes, throughout the day.

Broomstick Exercises

Use the stick handle of a sweeper or mop to help you with passive-assisted mobilization exercises that take you in all the planes of motion for your shoulder:

These are:

  • Flexion – raising the arm  from the shoulder in front of you
  • Extension – bringing the arm, from the shoulder, straight back behind you.
  • Abduction – bringing the arm from the shoulder straight out to the side
  • Adduction – bringing the arm back towards the body from abduction 

External rotation: Keeping the elbow at your side, rotate the whole arm from the shoulder, so your palm faces forward, or if your elbow is bent 90 degrees, your hand is away from your body

Internal rotation: Rotate the whole arm so the back of the hand is towards the body, or if the elbow is bent 90 degrees, the hand will be across your body. 

The idea of the exercises with the broomstick, is to enable your good arm to help your affected shoulder with these movements. With the external/ internal rotation exercises, the arms will have to be bent at the elbow in order to hold onto the broomstick.


Broomstick Extension Exercise:

 Standing facing a wall, press the end of the broomstick to the wall, while holding onto the other end with your frozen shoulder arm. Holding your arm in place, take a step forward. Do this a few times, going back and forth, relaxed and controlled. No exercise should cause pain.



Flexion exercise

Sorry! No picture, but I’ll describe it to you:

Using a table or countertop, either seated or standing, slide your arm forward along the surface  with your thumb facing up ( hand in neutral position) as you slide and lean forward with your body, your shoulder is being passively assisted into flexion. The further forward you lean, the more flexion at your shoulder. 

Alternatively, you can use a tennis ball under your forearm, sliding it under from you wrist to you elbow, slowly, taking care not to let it slip away. As someone who has suffered through frozen shoulder myself, I prefer this exercise, at least initially, over the other more commonly prescribed “Wall Crawl” exercise. 


External/Internal Rotation:

 Using the stick, hold it horizontally in front of you with both palms facing up. With your good arm, bring it across your body as far as your affected arm can comfortably go as it holds onto the stick and goes along for the ride into abduction (remember, you can assess which level of discomfort you can tolerate in order to do these exercises, more is not necessarily better!)

Now, pull with the good arm back across your body and keep going, assisting your affected arm into adduction across the front of your body.


Dragon Boat Row:

This is a combined mobilization exercise that takes your frozen shoulder from flexion into extension in one flowing movement with the aid of the broomstick. 

Using your good arm, with it at the top end of the stick, raise your arm up high above your head, helping your frozen shoulder side into shoulder flexion as it holds onto the bottom end of the stick. Then push down and through with your good arm so that the affected arm is encouraged to go into extension. This exercise, like the others, is passive-assisted, using your good arm to do the majority of the work, while your affected side helps as much as it comfortably can.

With this exercise, it ends up looking like you’re rowing on one side of your body, like in Dragon Boat Racing, but this is not a race! Do 5- 10 ‘rows’ and repeat on the other side, remember to have your good arm guiding the movements.

I hope these exercises help! If you would like any clarification to any of these exercises, or had any other questions regarding frozen shoulder, to not hesitate to contact me at the clinic.


In health,
Linda McLaren, RMT