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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Adduction (Reaching Across)

This stretch can help restore shoulder flexibility and relieve pain over time. When stretching, be sure to breathe deeply. And follow any special instructions from your healthcare provider or physical therapist:

  1. Put the hand from the side you want to stretch on your opposite shoulder. Your elbow should point away from your body. Try to raise your elbow as close to shoulder height as you can.

  2. With your other hand, push the raised elbow toward the opposite shoulder. Avoid turning your head. Stop when you feel the stretch. Try to hold the stretch for 5 seconds.

  3. Work up to doing  3 sets of this stretch  3 times a day. Work up to holding the stretch for  30 to 60 seconds.

Note: Be sure to push your elbow across your chest, not up toward your chin. Over time, try to push your elbow farther across your chest to enhance the stretch.

Woman doing adduction shoulder exercise.

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is another name for adhesive capsulitis. It causes limited movement in the shoulder. If you have frozen shoulder, this stretch may cause discomfort, especially when you first get started. A few months may pass before you achieve the results you want. Once your shoulder heals, it rarely becomes frozen again. So stick to your stretching program. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your healthcare provider.

© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.