Frozen Shoulder And Yoga: How To Work With It?

Transcript below of: Frozen shoulder and yoga: How to work with it?

Hey everybody!
I’m going to do a question of the month. Before I get started with this month’s topic of frozen shoulder and yoga, I want to make sure all of you know that I’ve got some great online courses and workshops coming out on If you haven’t already, go over to and get signed up on the newsletter, so you hear about it. You should also take a look at A Comprehensive Guide To The Shoulder In Yoga

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The Question:

The question comes from Shirley and her question is about frozen shoulder and yoga. She says, “I have a student with right frozen shoulder. What poses or stretching would you recommend?”

The Answer:

Well, as usual, it’s more complicated than we want it to be. Frozen shoulder is one of those things that, depending on the phase or stage of frozen shoulder that the student is in, you might do different things or different things might be acceptable at different times.

First, make sure you have a good assessment and that the assessment reveals that it is a frozen shoulder. There are occasions where a torn rotator cuff, could create similar symptoms. The differentiator in a very simplistic form is, in a torn rotator cuff, passively being moved is usually not painful, whereas in a frozen shoulder, even somebody else moving your arm for you is often painful. That’s one test. So, make sure it’s assessed correctly.

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Phases of frozen shoulder

Assuming it is a frozen shoulder, the frozen shoulders are often going to happen in three phases. One is the freezing phase, one is the frozen phase, and then one is the thawing phase. When it’s in that freezing phase and it’s starting to tighten and the pain is starting to increase, the last thing you want to do—well, the last thing you want to do in any of those phasesis increase the pain, especially after doing any movement.

Is the pain increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?

That is your fundamental, basic test for any posture that you’re considering having the student do, or if you are somebody with frozen shoulder, that you’re thinking of doing. You always want to test out one thing and then see how your body reacts to it, so it’s no different here. That’s true of any injury and any modification that you think might be appropriate.

So, having said that, in the freezing stage, do smaller movements and I would suggest, probably not weight-bearing. That might be true of freezing and frozen itself. It’s better to do things like arm hanging or maybe just barely playing with the edges of ranges of motion. Once again, we’re not wanting to push it so far that the body responds by tightening or creating more pain following that activity. That could be anywhere from immediately after to 24 hours later. Now, in the thawing stage, there’s a little bit more freedom and range of motion is typically starting to increase again. So, pushing it a little bit further, playing with that edge a little bit more is going to be more appropriate.

Tailor movements specifically to the student

I don’t have any specific posture that somebody should do or should not do. It’s going to typically be modifying the existing ones. You know, if it’s warrior, maybe the arm can’t go up all the way. Maybe the arm has to sit lower, or the hand goes on the waist. You can feel free to make it up, just make sure you’re coming from the perspective of testing to make sure this is okay. Alright?

There is also an article on the website that was written by a friend named Mike Monroe, who is a physical therapist and he wrote specifically on frozen shoulder and yoga. I don’t recall him giving any specific postures that you should or shouldn’t do, because that should be done on a case-by-case basis anyway, but check out that article. You can always go to the search bar on the articles page and type in frozen shoulder and yoga and then you’ll find that article. But we also have this article: Frozen Shoulder and Yoga – Do They Go Together?

Alright Shirley, I hope that helped.

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