Best Stiff Shoulder Exercises to Do at Home

Do you wake up almost every morning with shoulder pain and stiffness? You may be suffering from a frozen shoulder. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder can restrict movements or even prevent you from using your shoulder. One of the most effective treatments for frozen shoulder is physical therapy. Here are three of the best home exercises for a stiff or frozen shoulder, along with the benefits of physical therapy. 

Anatomy of the Shoulder Ligaments and Shoulder Joint Capsule 

Your shoulder joint is one of your body’s most complex and largest joints. While playing sports, often people injure their shoulder joint capsule, which typically results in shoulder sprains and dislocations. Your shoulder ligaments help in holding the humerus (upper arm bone) in the socket, giving the shoulder joint stability.

The humerus is the long bone in your arm, extending from your shoulder down to your elbow. The band of connective tissue, known as the shoulder joint capsule, houses the head of your humerus.

Common Causes 

Frozen shoulder frequently begins as a result of a minor injury, such as falling on an outstretched arm or jarring a shoulder by tripping. Besides trauma to the arm and shoulder, there are several other causes, which include:

  • Diabetes—While frozen shoulder affects only about two percent of the overall population, it’s found in 10 to 29 percent of diabetics.
  • Another cause is a decrease in mobility as a result of health problems, including stroke, fracture, rotator cuff tear, and surgery.
  • Shoulder bursitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Inflammatory issues
  • Autoimmune disorders and thyroid problems

Best Home Exercises For a Stiff or Frozen Shoulder

1. Wall Washing/Finger Walk Up Wall 

Wall-washing is one of the top home exercises for frozen shoulder or shoulder arthritis. This is an active movement in which you do the work while your shoulder joint moves. To do the exercise:

  • Find a clear wall, standing from it at arms-length.
  • Then, facing the wall, straighten out the right arm so that it’s lined up with your shoulder.
  • After putting your fingers on the wall, move your fingers up the wall, pretending they’re spider legs. Use only one to two fingers at a time.
  • Reaching as high as you comfortably can, hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Finally, gradually walk down your fingers, repeating the process two more times.
  • Repeat the exercise, using your other arm.

2. Pendulums Exercise 

The pendulum exercise is done for maintaining shoulder mobility.

  • Bend at your waist with one arm hanging down. For support, hold on to a chair or table.
  • Gently rock your body back and forth, using circular motions for moving your arm in a circular direction.
  • Next, reverse the movement so that your arm goes in the opposite direction.
  • Repeat this exercise five times. 

3. The Towel Rotation Stretch

This is another great stretching exercise for treating shoulder joint pain and frozen shoulder.

  • Holding the end of a long towel, belt, or strap in one hand, have the towel draped over your shoulder, letting it hang down your back.
  • Use your other hand to grip the towel that’s behind your back.
  • Then, gently pull up the towel, letting your hand that’s behind your back gradually travel up and across your back. This should result in feeling a gentle stretch on the side or the front of your shoulder.
  • After you’ve felt the stretch, keep the position, holding it for two to three seconds.
  • Then, release the stretch slowly, repeating these steps 10 times.
  • With each stretch, try to pull your arm up your back a little further. Don’t use any jerking or sudden motions, making sure you move slowly.

Considerations and Warnings

  • Frozen shoulder mostly affects middle-aged females from 40 to 60 years of age.
  • You can also do wall-washing exercises in water. In fact, pool water gives you somewhat more resistance since water is considerably denser than air.
  • Consult a medical professional for a diagnosis and then see a highly trained and experienced physical therapist.
  • Warm up before doing the exercises.

Don’t continue to suffer from shoulder stiffness, frozen shoulder, or shoulder arthritis. For more information on how physical therapy can help you, call CPTR at 570-208-2787 or email us at