Health and Fitness By Ayleen Jacobs / March 21, 2015 Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition in which the shoulder becomes immobile due to pain and stiffness. The tendons, ligaments, and even the bones of the shoulder are protected by a capsule of connective tissue. When this tissue becomes inflamed, scarred, or thickened, the movement of the shoulder becomes limited. Doctors are not entirely sure why some people develop frozen shoulder over others, but there are some risk factors that make people more prone to the condition. Having injuries or operations that immobilize the shoulder, as well as tendinitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff injury, are all risk factors for developing frozen shoulder. Adhesive capsulitis is the main reason why therapists came up with frozen shoulder exercises. But before discussing that, let us understand more about the condition. The disease typically presents itself in three distinct stages: the painful stage, the frozen stage, and the thawing stage. As the name suggests, the painful stage is marked by pain. Mobility becomes slightly limited during this stage, but the main feature is intense pain during any movement of the shoulder or arm. During the frozen stage, the pain of the painful stage lessens; however, the mobility of the shoulder decreases dramatically. Lastly comes the thawing stage in which the shoulder’s mobility begins to return, although this stage doesn’t present itself one hundred percent of the time. This is where the frozen shoulder exercises enter the picture. To increase the chances of the thawing stage occurring, it is recommended that you participate in regular shoulder exercises. Exercise has many benefits overall, but if you’re suffering from frozen shoulder, exercise is of paramount importance. Shoulder exercises are a simple and effective way to ease the pain and stiffness of this condition. The exercises are easy to do and can be done pretty much anywhere you want. That’s important because it is imperative that you do the exercises everyday. Consistency is the key. One of the shoulder exercises that are helpful for loosening the capsule is the over-the-head stretch. This exercise is best and easiest done in the supine position, which is lying face up on the back. Raise your affected arm over your head. Use your non-frozen shoulder affected arm, known as your therapist arm, to gently apply pressure to the affected arm, stretching it. Hold the stretch for a count of thirty before relaxing your arm again. Another of the shoulder exercises is the behind-the-back stretch, which moves your arm in the opposite direction as the over-the-head stretch. For this shoulder exercise, you’ll need a towel. Drape the towel over your non-frozen shoulder affected shoulder. Take hold of the front of the towel with your therapist hand and tuck your affected arm behind your back and grasp the other end of the towel with that hand. Once you have each end of the towel in each hand, pull forward with your therapist arm, pulling your frozen shoulder affected arm up the length of your back. Pull your arm as far as you can, hold for a count of thirty, and release the stretch. A third stretch is the external rotation. You will perform this shoulder exercise while standing in a doorway. Stand in the doorway with your arms by your sides. Bend the affected arm at the elbow and take hold of the doorframe. Keeping your upper arm by your side, rotate outward, creating an opening between your arm and your body like the hinge of a door. Rotate as far as you can and hold for a count of thirty before rotating back and releasing the stretch. If you do these exercises daily, the stiffness of shoulder should diminish on its own. There may be an increase in pain during the first few days of starting to do the exercises. Like any fitness routine, the shoulder exercises will work muscles that are not used to getting any exercise, and therefore, they will be sore once you begin your fitness routine. However, as time goes on, the pain will diminish, and not only that, but the stiffness will work itself out.