In my practice as a yoga trainer I’ve seen my share of clients with frozen shoulder and almost all of them have experienced 60 – 70 % relief after regular practice of specific exercises. As the name suggests, in this condition, shoulder becomes stiff and movement in all directions becomes painful. Even assisted movement, with the help of someone else, is painful. The pain may set in gradually or develop all of a sudden. Frozen shoulder is more commonly seen in people with diabetes, thyroid disorders or parkinsonism. It could happen even in people who do not have these diseases.
Here are some exercises for frozen shoulder
Initially exercises are done very gently within the limit of pain, as pain improves the frequency and duration of exercises is increased. The application of hot pack after exercises will make the exercises more tolerable.
Stand and lean over forward, letting your arm to hang down. Keep the normal arm supported on a chair. Move your affected arm in a small circle, clock and anti-clockwise. Repeat 10-20 times in each direction. As your symptoms improve, increase diameter of your circle but don’t do forcefully.
Stand facing a wall, such that when you stretch your hand your finger can comfortably touch the wall. Touch the wall at waist level with the fingertips of the affected arm, keeping your elbow slightly bent. Slowly walk your fingers up the wall until you’ve raised your arm as far as you can comfortably. Now start lowering the arm. Repeat this 10 to 20 times. This slow and controlled movement of the shoulder joint can help to thaw a frozen shoulder.
Lie down on your back. Clasp both the hands together in front of the body, then slowly elevate your hands keeping the elbows straight. Elevate your hands to the point where you feel slight pain. Slowly lower down. Repeat this movement for a minimum of 10-20 times.
Shoulder external rotation in lying down
This movement may be difficult to do when the pain is at its peak. You can try it on days then the pain is bearable or warm fomentation of the shoulder. Clasp both the hands behind your neck. Slowly lower both the elbows up to the point where you feel pain then again raise your elbows. Repeat this exercise 10-20 times.
Anterior shoulder stretch
Once you have progressed through the previous exercise you can try this stretch with your forearm on the wall and your elbow resting on the edge of the wall. Lean forward until you feel a comfortable stretch in the front of your shoulder. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
Gomukhasana using a belt
This is a yogic pose that is excellent for opening the shoulders. Also known as ‘cow face’ pose. Classically in this pose, you clasp the wrist of the opposite hand. When recovering from frozen shoulder, use a belt to manoeuvrer your hands and open your shoulders as per your pain threshold. As the pain decreases you can bring your hands closer to each other.
Other than exercises, you can also try acupuncture and massage to hasten healing.
Remember healing from a frozen shoulder will take time, but adopting the right posture along with regular and correct exercises can relieve the pain and increase the range of movement.
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