Tackling Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Treatments & Pilates Benefits

Tackling Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Treatments & Pilates Benefits

Frozen shoulder, medically known as adhesive capsulitis, is a debilitating condition characterised by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. It affects mobility and can significantly impact daily activities. In this article, we will delve into what frozen shoulder is, its causes, and traditional treatments, and explore how Pilates can aid in improving shoulder mobility and strength for individuals dealing with this condition.

What is Frozen Shoulder and what are the casues?

Frozen shoulder involves inflammation, thickening, and tightening of the shoulder capsule, leading to restricted movement and stiffness. It progresses through three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing stages.

Factors such as injury, medical conditions like diabetes, immobilisation, age, and gender contribute to frozen shoulder development

Traditional Treatments for Frozen Shoulder

Treatment for frozen shoulder typically focuses on relieving pain and restoring shoulder mobility. Common approaches include:

  • Physical therapy: Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises are often prescribed to improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Manual therapy: Techniques such as massage or joint mobilisations may help loosen the shoulder joint and improve mobility. Myofascial Release / Structural Integration (offered here in the studio), has shown very promising results for clients.
  • Surgery: In severe cases where conservative treatments fail, surgical interventions like manipulation under anesthesia or shoulder arthroscopy may be considered to release the tight capsule.

How Pilates Can Help

While Pilates is often associated with improving posture and spinal health, a regular tailored program can also be beneficial for individuals with frozen shoulder. Here’s how:

  • Gentle stretching: Pilates exercises emphasise controlled movements and gentle stretching, which can help alleviate stiffness and improve flexibility in the shoulder joint.
  • Strengthening: Pilates targets the muscles of the core, back, and shoulders, promoting strength and stability in the entire shoulder girdle.
  • Low-impact: Many Pilates exercises are low-impact and can be modified to accommodate individuals with shoulder pain or limitations, making it suitable for those with frozen shoulder.



Pilates Exercises for Shoulder Mobility and Strength:

  1. Shoulder Rolls: Sit or stand tall with arms by your sides. Slowly roll your shoulders forward and then backward in a circular motion, focusing on smooth, controlled movement.
  2. Arm Circles: Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Rotate your arms in small circles, gradually increasing the size of the circles. Repeat in the opposite direction.
  3. Modified Push-Ups: Start in a kneeling position with hands shoulder-width apart. Lower your chest towards the ground, keeping elbows close to your body. Push back up to the starting position.
  4. Scapular Retraction: Lie on your stomach with arms extended overhead. Engage your shoulder blades and lift your arms and chest off the ground, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  5. Shoulder Blade Squeezes: Sit or stand with arms by your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then release. Repeat for several repetitions.


Frozen shoulder can be a challenging condition to manage, but with proper treatment and exercise, individuals can experience improvements in pain and mobility. Pilates offers a gentle yet effective approach to enhancing shoulder mobility and strength, making it a valuable addition to a comprehensive treatment plan for frozen shoulder. As always, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have existing shoulder issues or medical conditions. With dedication and consistency, Pilates can help individuals with frozen shoulders regain function and quality of life.

If you’d like help with Frozen Shoulder, the Pilates Connection team can help design a customised program to help regain stregth and mobility. Contact us today for an assessment.


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