Frozen Shoulder and How to Heal It

Frozen shoulder is one of those ailments that reminds us every single joint in our body is precious.  We need the shoulder to move with a complete range of motion pain free. Period.

It can be done. Despite an acute case of adhesive capsulitis.  You may wake up feeling like you slept at a weird angle, or maybe tore something swinging your club at the golf ball, and then suddenly your shoulder won’t move and your arm dangles helplessly at your side.  You don’t need to wait two years, but you will need to be diligent determined and patient.

As in all healing, it’s about the circulation. The oxygen delivered by the fresh blood flow is essential to ANY healing in the body – which is why yoga is so critical.  First, the breathing in yoga is designed to maximize the oxygen intake while moving in and out of the asanas.  Inhaling as you expand the body and make room in the lungs, exhaling as you come together and squeeze those toxins out of the body via the breath.

Which comes to the toxins part of the cure.  Without moving the lymph, without exhaling adequate amounts of carbon dioxide, without sweating out toxins, and without excreting through our digestive system, we are holding on to waste products that only exacerbate inflammation and impede healing.  Oxygen molecules need room to do their work, thus toxins must exit the body.

Diet and your immune system are key in creating the nourishing space your shoulder will need to recover.  Remember that nutrition is key when addressing any inflammation.  Often, scar tissue can be created by the initial injury that may have created the frozen shoulder.  That scar tissue tends not to be as pliable as our original tissue.  If you feed the body with the right nutrition, it can help an injury heal faster, with a greater range of motion, and with less scar tissue.  So yes, eat leafy greens, and a variety of brightly colored vegetables and fruits.

In order to hasten the healing and push oxygen to the correct parts of the body, you will need some regular and consistent stretching.  You want to be careful that you stay away from causing additional pain however.  Pain causes the body to produce extra cortisol via the adrenal glands, and most of us in today’s world don’t need any more cortisol running rampant in our systems.  Thus if you feel pain, back off a little, breathe.  That soft breath that I always speak of, find it.

Below I offer a few stretches that you can do in a supported gentle manner, holding each stretch for about 3 minutes if you can.  That means with a soft gentle breath, no pain.

They are completely static stretches…arrange yourself appropriately and then set your timer and relax.

First one: lie on your belly, take the happy arm and slide it across the front of your body as if you were stretching under your other arm.  Allow it to stretch as far as possible.  Take the arm with the frozen shoulder and reach it overhead, as far as you can WITHOUT pain.  You need to hang out in this position for around 3 minutes.  Then you will do the other side, regardless of whether the other shoulder hurts or not.  Balance.  Feel free to support your stretch with pillows or blocks, or blankets it your need it.

The second stretch is on your back, again feel free to support with cushions, pillows, blankets, towels…etc. You will start with your arms by your sides near your hips, lengthen the arms and slowly  raise them overhead.  Reach as far overhead as you can without pain.  Remember, it’s possible the affected arm doesn’t move too far, no worries.  Prop it up with as many cushions as you need to allow a gentle stretch and still keep the arm as straight as possible. Note the soles of the feet are touching and the knees are opened out to the sides.  Why not allow a nice opening for the hips as well?  Set the timer for three minutes. 

Last set of stretches. You will be on your front again, for this stretch.  This time the happy arm reaches out behind you, while the hand on the affected shoulder is pressing into the mat until you feel a gentle stretch on the happy arm.  Push out the knee in front to support your stretch. Hang out for 3 minutes and then repeat on the other side. The affected arm will start extended close to the body, and walk it out SLOWLY so that there is NO PAIN. Use cushions and blankets as required.

You’ll want to do these stretches at least once daily, if you can, once in the morning and once at night.  Remove supports and blankets as you feel better, and maybe try to hold for four minutes each 🙂

You can use castor oil to massage the shoulder too. A gentle massage helps to improve circulation to the region, and  the minerals and nutrients in the oil are extremely beneficial for inflammation.

Hope these stretches help you!  Feel free to comment or email if you have any questions 🙂

Be well always!

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