Based on my experience in physical therapy, we had patients do pendulums and stretches.
Use a light weight, like 3lbs and let her dangle her arm and allow the shoulder joint to relax. This helps
decompress the joint that is already seized up. She can also rock side to side, forward back and in circles with unaffected arm on a sturdy bench or table. Most patients don’t get this concept, they activly perform the motion with their arm instead of allowing it to happen passively. I think it’s cute some times when they try to figure it out lol, it makes me giggle on the inside.
As for the stretches, check her shoulder rom (flexion, internal and external rotation). See if she can get her arm into a vertical position and compare it her good arm, see if she can get her arm behind her back and see if she can rotate her arm out. If you see large deficiencies, then you have stretches you know to work on. Lat stretches, child’s pose, PNF stretches in supine are all some ideas for getting more flexion. A behind the back towel stretch is a great one for internal rotation, sleeper stretch is a more advanced one. A door way stretch for external rotation. You could also incorporate a pec stretch.
Those are some simple stretches to work on. Make sure to watch out for her comfort level. I wouldn’t push her deep into a stretch. Exercise caution, obviously and be patient. Frozen shoulder is not easy to deal with for the client but it can be cured. It affects women in her age group predominately so she’s not alone. Give her hope. However, let her know it requires patients as it can take weeks to months to see improvements.
Also have her see a Physician or PT, if she hasn’t already. Best of luck to you and your client.
I speak from own experience as I once had a frozen shoulder myself. This is something where you need to work with a physical therapist. The reasons for getting a frozen shoulder can vary. There are cases when frozen shoulders all of a sudden “melt”, but there are often underlying problems which may even require surgery.
That does not mean that the client cannot exercise at all, even for the upper body. In all likelihood, she cannot raise her arm and will employ a lot of compensation strategies to get her arm / hand up somehow. Try to avoid reinforcing those compensations. Of course, no upper body exercise when she is in pain.
The main thing is to get your input from a PT. It is a tough one to deal with.
Hello Teri Robus,
I hope this client has seen the doctor and physical therapist who should give you both instructions on how to proceed, cautiously, if at all, yet. Ask for photos of what the client does/did in physical therapy, or other procedures used. You are most likely dealing with inflammation.
With doctor clearance and physical therapy complete, I would keep the rest of the body flexible and strong while allowing the shoulder to heal, progressing at the client’s ability. Pay super close attention so the client does not overdo it, letting pain and discomfort be the guide.
Be patient, this can take up to two years to thaw. Full ROM may not return; so, be happy with partial to nearly full ROM. That does not mean you give up; it is between you and me for a reality check to be patient and thankful during the healing process. Taimoor suggests pendulums to help decompress; something we have also employed.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.
I would refer her back to her physical therapist as a first line of action Or, at least make a connection with the physical therapist to get information related to her own individual case and the exercises that have already been prescribed to her (that is a bonus for you to make the connection with the therapist :). ) She likely needs to do her exercises multiple times per day (and sometimes moist heat is involved), so ultimately it will be up to her to help herself recover and restore range of motion (you had mentioned she let the exercises slide…)
Frozen shoulder can takes months to get better, so I hope she decides to continue her treatment.
Best to you,
Hi 🙂 Working with a physician or physical therapist is always the first line of action, however, they often end treatment too soon. If she was not seeing a therapist to begin with I would refer her out to one. If she does have a therapist, I usually develop an exercise program based on a detailed assessment and send it over the the therapist for approval. Sometimes this helps get the ball rolling. Exercises listed above and other exercises such as shoulder clocks, and foam roller thoracic extension help. In my experience, frozen shoulders can come from a variety of things as mentioned above, thoracic kyphosis usually makes it worse as when someone cannot extend through the thoracic spine they create problems in the shoulder as the shoulder takes the brunt of the shoulder movement, especially overhead movements. A good postural assessment will help guide you, the ACE shoulder assessments and keeping the shoulder and thoracic spine mobile is imperative.