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Exercises with a Resistance Band for a Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder affects two to five percent of the general population, according to a study published by BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders in 2016. Although this frustrating condition can develop after injury, most of the time it comes out of nowhere.

At first, you might notice it when you have difficulty reaching overhead to wash your hair. Over time, it likely also became difficult to reach out to the side or behind your back.

Initially, exercises for frozen shoulder focus on regaining your range of motion. Once the movement of your shoulder improves, it's time to strengthen your muscles to get you back to doing the things you love. Resistance bands are light and portable so you can perform these exercises virtually anywhere.

1. Rows

Rowing exercises help you stand up straight when you reach for things, improving activities such as putting dishes in a cupboard.

HOW TO DO IT: Stagger your feet and stand securely on the middle of your band with your front foot. Hold one end of the band in each hand. Bend your front knee slightly and bend forward at your hips. Keep your back straight to protect your spine.

Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and keep them in this position throughout the movement. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, drawing your elbows straight back as far as possible. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 10 times. Work up to three sets in a row.

2. Outward Rotation

Outward rotation is also called external rotation. This movement is important for reaching the back of your head and putting on a jacket.

HOW TO DO IT: Secure one end of your band to a stable object, such as a doorknob or in a door hinge around waist-height. Stand with the non-exercising side of your body facing the object.

Hold the other end of the band in the hand farthest from the secured end of the band. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and keep it in this position throughout the exercise.

Keeping your upper arm next to your side, rotate your forearm away from your body as far as possible. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 10 times. Work up to three sets in a row.

3. Inward Rotation

Inward rotation -- also called internal rotation -- is important for tucking your shirt into the back of your pants and looping a belt around your waist.

HOW TO DO IT: Set up the band as you would for outward rotation. Hold the band in the hand closest to the secured end of the band. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and maintain this position throughout this exercise.

Keeping your upper arm next to your body, rotate your forearm away from your body as far as possible. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 10 times. Work up to three sets in a row.

4. Lateral Raises

Frozen shoulder often makes it very difficult to lift your arm straight out the side. Lateral raises strengthen muscles that abduct your arm, moving it away from your side.

HOW TO DO IT: Stagger your feet and stand on the middle of the band with your front foot. Hold one end of the band in each hand. Stand up tall and keep your elbows straight throughout this exercise.

Rotate your arms so that your thumbs point to the ceiling. Slowly lift your arms out to the side until they are just above shoulder-height. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position until your arms are resting by your sides. Repeat 10 times, working up to three sets in a row.

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About the Author

Aubrey Bailey has been writing online health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have also appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a Certified Hand Therapist.

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