12 Exercises To Prevent Frozen Shoulder Pain & Stiffness

Written by on June 15, 2022 — Medically reviewed by Mitch Torres (PT)

Up to 20% of the time, adhesive capsulitis can recur on the opposite side. (1) There are some things you can do to reduce this risk, though – like these 12 exercises to prevent frozen shoulder.

Yet, keep in mind that when it comes to this condition, the only way to prevent it is by keeping a healthy lifestyle. Not only with movement but also by being proactive with your health choices.

But don’t worry, we’ll give you a set of preventive exercises to include in your routine, as well as other tips to reduce your risk of recurrence. Here’s the table of contents, tap on any of the topics to quickly jump into that section:

12 preventive frozen shoulder exercises

This exercise program is aimed at improving your posture, as well as keeping your shoulder muscles in tip-top shape.

You’ll be able to reduce your risk of developing adhesive capsulitis in the same or the opposite shoulder as a result.

Start by doing these strengthening and stretching exercises 3-4 of them thrice a week, preferably 3 sets for each movement. After a month or two, change the exercise routine.

Now, without further ado, these are the 12 exercises:

PS: If you are currently suffering from frozen shoulder, try these exercises instead.

1) Big arm circles

  • Start in a standing position.
  • Raise both arms to the side at a 90-degree angle with your torso.
  • Keep your elbows straight.
  • Use your shoulder joint to make a large circular motion.
  • Do 10 repetitions moving your arm clockwise, then repeat the same exercise but in a counterclockwise manner.

2) Door frame stretches

  • Stand in the middle of a doorway.
  • Place one foot in front of the other.
  • Make a T-pose with your arms and torso, bending your elbows 90°.
  • Keeping that position, lean forward, towards the front foot.
  • You should be feeling a gentle stretch around the collarbone area.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

3) Face pulls

  • Sit on the floor with your knees straight in front.
  • Loop the middle of your resistance band under your feet and firmly hold onto both ends.
  • Pull the resistance band near your cheeks, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

4) Cat and camel exercise

  • Start on your hands and knees, each shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your back straight, chin slightly tucked.
  • Start by curving your back upward, like a scared cat. Push the floor with your arms to further exaggerate the movement.
  • You should feel a stretch on your middle back, maybe on your neck and hips too.
  • Then, slowly arch your back, sticking your butt and head up to the ceiling, making the shape of a camel.
  • It should feel like all the muscles on your back are being squeezed.
  • Repeat 10 times.

5) Chin tucks

  • Sit on a chair with your back straight and each shoulder relaxed.
  • Place two fingers right on your chin.
  • Gently push your head back horizontally, as if you were trying to produce a “double-chin” expression.
  • Use your fingers to apply more pressure and stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and slowly return to starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

6) Full can exercise

  • In a standing position, grab a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Slowly lift both arms, forming a 45° angle with your torso.
  • Once your arms are parallel to the floor, slowly lower and go back to starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

If you don’t have dumbbells at home, you can use plastic bags with packets of flour or rice. Just make sure you’re using the same weight on both sides.

7) Alternating overhead press

  • Sit or stand with your back straight, grabbing a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lift one dumbbell toward the ceiling with the palm facing forward.
  • Slowly, lower that arm down while lifting the other.
  • That’s one repetition.
  • Repeat 10 times.

8) Wall angels

  • Stand with your back against the wall.
  • The back of your heel should be 6-12 inches away from it.
  • Raise your arms to the side and bend your elbows to a 90° angle.
  • Place the back of your forearms and hand on the wall.
  • Slowly, slide your arms up against the wall.
  • Your back and arms should be in contact with the wall throughout the motion.
  • Once you feel like your back is arching, slowly bring your arms down to starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

9) Wall corner press outs

  • Lean your back against a sturdy corner wall.
  • Your heels should be a few inches in front of you.
  • Raise your arms to the side with your elbows bent to a 90° angle.
  • Use the back of your elbows to push yourself away from the wall, while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Once you are standing upright, go back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

10) Resistance band external rotation

  • Anchor a resistance band at waist height.
  • Place a rolled towel between your elbow and your torso.
  • Stand next to the band and grab it with your affected arm.
  • Pull the band while keeping the elbow tucked, pressing on the towel.
  • This will produce a rotating motion on your shoulder.
  • Once you’ve reached the limit on your sore arm, slowly return to starting position.
  • Do it 10 times and repeat with the unaffected arm.

11) Resistance band internal rotation

  • Same setting as the previous exercise.
  • Grab the band with the same side that’s facing it.
  • Take a few steps to the side to stretch the resistance band a bit.
  • Pull the band towards your belly while keeping the elbow tucked, pressing the towel.
  • This will produce a rotating motion on your shoulder as well.
  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 10 times for each arm.

12) Floor Y raises

  • Lay down on your belly with both your arms forward, forming a Y-pose with your torso.
  • Slowly lift both arms from the ground, keeping your thumbs up towards the ceiling.
  • Hold for 2 seconds and slowly lower to starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

3 health tips to prevent frozen shoulder

A big part of preventing frozen shoulder has to do with your lifestyle. As such, minimizing risk factors is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of developing adhesive capsulitis.

These are the ones that give the biggest bang for your buck:

1) Quit cigarette smoking

This is a big risk factor in developing a frozen shoulder. (2) It might be related to how smoking is related to having poor health, but further research is required.

With that said, the National Institute of Aging recommends the following to aid you in kicking the habit of smoking (3):

  • Talking with your doctor for individualized strategies.
  • Going to individual or group counseling.
  • Trying new physical activities.
  • Taking medicine to help cope with withdrawal symptoms.

2) Manage your blood pressure and sugar level

Having high cholesterol and diabetes are other risk factors for frozen shoulder. The former makes you 1.5-times more vulnerable. But the latter increases your likelihood of developing it by 5 times. (4, 5)

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doing these changes might help (6, 7):

  • Being physically active.
  • Limit alcohol intake to two bottles at most.
  • Drinking water instead of juice or soda.
  • Controlling your food portions.

Further reading: Why does diabetes increases the risk of frozen shoulder?

3) Regular check-ups with your doctor

Being sick or injured is not the only time to get an appointment with your doctor.

Undergoing regular consults might help detect other health-related factors that can lead to a frozen shoulder.

This also allows your doctor to adjust your medications and be up-to-date with how well your health is at the moment.

Learn more: All about frozen shoulder – causes, treatments, and more.


Can frozen shoulder be prevented?

Research is still lacking if frozen shoulder can truly be prevented. At the moment, the best proactive solution is to identify and avoid any risk factors that can lead to the condition.

How do you prevent frozen shoulder from reoccurring?

Living a healthy lifestyle is probably the best preventive method. This can include being active, eating well, and having good body mechanics.

Can frozen shoulder be cured by exercise?

Yes, as it can help restore your shoulder’s range of motion and may aid in pain relief. If you do not know how or where to start, please seek the guidance of a physical therapist.

Conclusion: Effective exercises to prevent frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition that may gradually and painfully creep up on you. And even if you have recovered from it, there is still some chance that it might happen again.

Various types of upper body exercise might help prevent frozen shoulder. This can come in the form of strengthening, range of motion, or a stretching program.

If you still think you need a bit more guidance, do not hesitate to visit a physical therapy clinic near you.


  1. Robinson, C M et al. “Frozen shoulder.” The Journal of bone and joint surgery. British volume vol. 94,1 (2012): 1-9. DOI: 10.1302/0301-620X.94B1.27093
  2. de la Serna, Daniel et al. “A Comprehensive View of Frozen Shoulder: A Mystery Syndrome.” Frontiers in medicine vol. 8 663703. 11 May. 2021, DOI: 10.3389/fmed.2021.663703
  3. “Quit Smoking for Older Adults.” National Institute of Aging. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 17 January 2019. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/quitting-smoking-older-adults
  4. Wang, Jr-Yi et al. “Hyperlipidemia Is a Risk Factor of Adhesive Capsulitis: Real-World Evidence Using the Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database.” Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine vol. 9,4 2325967120986808. 5 Apr. 2021, DOI: 10.1177/2325967120986808
  5. Dyer, Brett P et al. “Diabetes as a Prognostic Factor in Frozen Shoulder: A Systematic Review.” Archives of rehabilitation research and clinical translation vol. 3,3 100141. 14 Jul. 2021, DOI: 10.1016/j.arrct.2021.100141
  6. “Prevent High Blood Pressure.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 24 February 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/prevent.htm
  7. “Manage Blood Sugar.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 28 April 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/manage-blood-sugar.html

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