What Is The Best Massage For A Frozen Shoulder?

Dealing with a frozen shoulder can be a painful and frustrating experience. We understand how this condition can affect your daily life, making even simple tasks feel like a challenge.

But there’s good news – massage therapy can be a powerful tool in your journey towards relief and recovery.

In this article, we’ll explore the best massage techniques for treating frozen shoulder, offering step-by-step guides that you can try at home.

Remember, every step you take is a step towards better health and wellbeing. Let’s get started!

Understanding Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, medically known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint.

The symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within a one to three-year period.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up your shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue.

Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement. Factors that might put you at a higher risk include:

  • Age: Being over 40 years old
  • Gender: It’s more common in women
  • Medical conditions: Such as diabetes or a stroke

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Frozen Shoulder

The main symptoms of a frozen shoulder are pain and stiffness that make it difficult or impossible to move it.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. They may suggest imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs to rule out other problems.

Impact on Daily Life

Frozen shoulder can significantly impact your daily life. It can make it hard to perform everyday activities like:

  • Dressing
  • Combing your hair
  • Reaching for items on high shelves

Understanding the nature of this condition is the first step towards managing it effectively. In the next section, we’ll delve into how massage can help alleviate the symptoms of frozen shoulder.


  1. Mayo Clinic – Frozen Shoulder
  2. WebMD – What Is Frozen Shoulder?
  3. Healthline – Frozen Shoulder

Understanding the Stages of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, typically progresses through three stages, each with its own unique characteristics and challenges.

Understanding these stages can help you better manage your condition and set realistic expectations for your recovery.

  1. Freezing Stage: This stage, which can last anywhere from six weeks to nine months, is characterized by a slow onset of pain. As the pain worsens, the shoulder loses motion.
  2. Frozen Stage: During this stage, there’s a slow improvement in pain, but the stiffness remains. This stage can last from four months to six months.
  3. Thawing Stage: This is the recovery stage, where shoulder motion slowly returns to normal over a period of five to 26 months.

Risk Factors for Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is more common in individuals aged between 40 and 70 years. Women are affected more commonly than men.

A recent history of traumatic shoulder injury, surgery, or arm fracture can also increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder.

Electronic Massage for Frozen Shoulder

In addition to manual massage techniques, electronic massage tools can also be used to improve mobility and relieve tension associated with frozen shoulder.

These tools can focus on tender areas and trigger points, providing relief from pain and stiffness.

 However, it’s important to use these tools under the guidance of a healthcare professional to avoid any potential harm.

The Role of Heat and Cold Therapy

Heat and cold therapy can be beneficial in the treatment of frozen shoulder.

Heat therapy can help increase the flexibility of the shoulder joint capsule and reduce pain, making it easier to perform a frozen shoulder massage.

On the other hand, cold therapy can help relieve inflammation and pain after a massage or exercise.

The Importance of Proper Treatment

Without proper treatment, frozen shoulder can lead to long-term stiffness and pain, and can significantly impact your quality of life.

Therefore, it’s crucial to follow a comprehensive treatment plan that includes massage, exercises, medication, and lifestyle modifications.

This can help treat the symptoms of frozen shoulder and improve the mobility of your shoulder.

The Role of Massage in Treating Frozen Shoulder

Massage therapy plays a crucial role in the treatment of frozen shoulder. It can help alleviate pain, reduce stiffness, and improve range of motion. Let’s delve into how this works.

How Massage Helps

Massage works by stimulating the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints.

This stimulation increases blood flow to the area, which can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Specifically for frozen shoulder, massage can:

  • Relieve muscle tension: Massage can help relax tight muscles around the shoulder, relieving pain and improving mobility.
  • Increase circulation: Improved blood flow can help deliver nutrients to the shoulder joint, promoting healing.
  • Promote relaxation: The soothing nature of massage can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are often associated with chronic pain conditions like frozen shoulder.

Benefits of Massage for Frozen Shoulder

Incorporating massage into your treatment plan for frozen shoulder can offer several benefits:

  • Pain relief: By reducing muscle tension and improving circulation, massage can help alleviate the pain associated with frozen shoulder.
  • Improved mobility: Regular massage can help increase the range of motion in your shoulder, making daily activities easier.
  • Better sleep: Reduced pain and increased relaxation can lead to better sleep, which is essential for overall health and well-being.

In the next section, we’ll explore the best massage techniques for treating frozen shoulder, and how you can perform them at home or with the help of a professional.


  1. American Massage Therapy Association – Massage Therapy for Those Who Exercise
  2. Healthline – Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits
  3. Mayo Clinic – Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits
  4. American Psychological Association – Massage Therapy for Mental Health
  5. NCBI – The Effectiveness of Therapeutic Massage for Musculoskeletal Pain
  6. Harvard Health – The health benefits of massage
  7. Sleep Foundation – How Massage Can Improve Sleep

Best Massage Techniques for Frozen Shoulder

There are several massage techniques that can be beneficial for frozen shoulder. Here, we’ll explore three of the most effective ones: Deep Tissue Massage, Swedish Massage, and Trigger Point Therapy.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It’s particularly useful for chronic aches and pains, such as a stiff neck, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.

For frozen shoulder, deep tissue massage can:

  • Help break up scar tissue that forms when the shoulder is not used regularly
  • Reduce inflammation by increasing blood flow to the area
  • Relieve pain by reducing tension in the muscles and fascia

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is a gentle type of full-body massage that’s ideal for people who are new to massage, have a lot of tension, or are sensitive to touch. It can help release muscle knots and is also a good choice for when you want to fully relax during a massage.

For frozen shoulder, Swedish massage can:

  • Improve circulation, which helps the body to reabsorb the fluid in the shoulder joint
  • Promote relaxation, reducing the stress and anxiety associated with chronic pain
  • Improve overall range of motion by relaxing tight muscles

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy, also known as neuromuscular therapy, involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to relieve pain. These points, known as trigger points, are areas of tightness in the muscle tissues that cause pain in other parts of the body.

For frozen shoulder, trigger point therapy can:

  • Help manage chronic pain
  • Improve range of motion by reducing muscle tightness
  • Promote faster healing by improving circulation

In the next section, we’ll guide you through how to perform these massage techniques, either on your own or with the help of a professional.


  1. Healthline – Deep Tissue Massage: Everything You Need to Know
  2. Mayo Clinic – Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits
  3. NCBI – Deep Friction Massage to Treat Tendinopathy
  4. American Massage Therapy Association – Massage Therapy for Pain Management
  5. NCBI – The Effectiveness of Therapeutic Massage for Musculoskeletal Pain
  6. Healthline – Swedish Massage: What Is It? And What Can It Do for You?
  7. Mayo Clinic – Swedish Massage
  8. NCBI – Massage Therapy for the Orthopaedic Patient: A Review
  9. American Psychological Association – Massage Therapy for Mental Health

How to Perform a Frozen Shoulder Massage

Now that we’ve discussed the best massage techniques for treating frozen shoulder, let’s delve into how you can perform these techniques at home or with the help of a professional.

Deep Tissue Massage for a Frozen Shoulder

Deep tissue massage can be performed by a professional massage therapist who has been trained in this technique. However, if you’re doing it at home, here’s a simple method you can try:

  1. Warm up the shoulder: Start by applying a warm towel or heating pad to the shoulder for about 10 minutes to relax the muscles.
  2. Apply oil or lotion: This helps reduce friction and makes the massage more comfortable.
  3. Use firm pressure: With your fingers or a massage tool, apply firm pressure to the shoulder, moving in slow, circular motions.
  4. Focus on pain points: If you feel a knot or area of tightness, spend extra time massaging that area.
  5. Cool down: Finish with light, soothing strokes to help the muscles relax.

Swedish Massage for a Frozen Shoulder

Swedish massage is best performed by a professional, but you can also do a simplified version at home:

  1. Prepare the area: Make sure the room is warm and comfortable. Use a massage oil or lotion to help your hands glide over the skin.
  2. Use long, flowing strokes: Start with long, flowing strokes (effleurage) to warm up the muscle tissue.
  3. Apply kneading motions: Use kneading motions (petrissage) to work on deeper tissues.
  4. Finish with light strokes: End the massage with light, relaxing strokes.

Trigger Point Therapy for a Frozen Shoulder

Trigger point therapy can be done using a foam roller, massage cane, or even a tennis ball:

  1. Locate the trigger point: These are often areas that feel like knots or tight bands of muscle.
  2. Apply pressure: Use your tool of choice to apply pressure to the trigger point.
  3. Hold and release: Hold the pressure for about 30 seconds, then release.
  4. Repeat: Repeat this process several times, until you feel the muscle start to relax.

Remember, while these techniques can be done at home, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or a certified massage therapist before starting any new treatment regimen.

And if you feel severe pain at any point during the massage, stop immediately and seek professional help.


  1. Healthline – How to Give a Deep Tissue Massage
  2. Mayo Clinic – Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits
  3. NCBI – Deep Friction Massage to Treat Tendinopathy
  4. American Massage Therapy Association – Massage Therapy for Pain Management
  5. Healthline – How to Give a Deep Tissue Massage
  6. Healthline – Swedish Massage: What Is It? And What Can It Do for You?

Additional Treatments and Exercises for Frozen Shoulder

While massage can be a powerful tool in treating frozen shoulder, it’s often most effective when combined with other treatments and exercises.

Here are some additional strategies that can complement your massage regimen:

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a key component of frozen shoulder treatment. A physical therapist can provide you with a series of exercises to improve your range of motion and strengthen the shoulder muscles.

These exercises typically involve gentle stretching and gradually increase in intensity as your shoulder begins to heal.


Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can help manage the pain and swelling associated with frozen shoulder. In some cases, your doctor may recommend stronger prescription medications or corticosteroid injections.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Applying heat to the shoulder before exercising can help increase flexibility and reduce pain. After exercise or massage, applying a cold pack can help reduce inflammation.

Lifestyle Modifications

Making certain changes to your daily routine can also help manage frozen shoulder symptoms. These might include:

  • Using the affected arm for daily activities to keep it flexible
  • Avoiding movements that cause pain
  • Practicing good posture


In addition to the exercises your physical therapist recommends, you can also try the following at home:

  • Pendulum stretch: Stand and lean over slightly, allowing the affected arm to hang down. Swing the arm in a small circle.
  • Towel stretch: Hold one end of a three-foot-long towel behind your back and grab the opposite end with your other hand. Pull the towel horizontally to stretch your shoulder.
  • Cross-body reach: Lift your good arm to help lift your affected


  1. Mayo Clinic – Frozen Shoulder
  2. American Physical Therapy Association – Frozen Shoulder
  3. Healthline – Frozen Shoulder
  4. Mayo Clinic – Frozen Shoulder
  5. Cleveland Clinic – Frozen Shoulder
  6. Healthline – Ice or Heat for Shoulder Pain?
  7. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Frozen Shoulder
  8. Mayo Clinic – Frozen Shoulder
  9. Harvard Health – The importance of good posture


Frozen shoulder can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right approach, you can alleviate pain and regain mobility. Massage therapy, in conjunction with physical therapy, medication, heat and cold therapy, lifestyle modifications, and targeted exercises, can be a powerful combination in your treatment plan.

Remember, it’s crucial to:

  • Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment or exercise regimen.
  • Listen to your body. If something causes pain, stop doing it.
  • Be patient. Recovery from frozen shoulder can take time, but with consistent effort, you can make progress.

While this guide provides a comprehensive overview of how to use massage for frozen shoulder, it’s not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

In the end, the goal is to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and improve your quality of life. With the right treatment plan, you can achieve these goals and get back to your regular activities.


  1. Mayo Clinic – Frozen Shoulder
  2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Frozen Shoulder
  3. Cleveland Clinic – Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder FAQs

Q: What type of massage therapy is best for frozen shoulder treatment?

A: The best type of massage for a frozen shoulder is a combination of deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, and joint mobilization techniques.

These approaches can help alleviate frozen shoulder pain, improve shoulder range of motion, and loosen the tight shoulder muscles and joint capsule associated with frozen shoulder syndrome.

Q: How can massage therapy help frozen shoulder?

A: Massage therapy helps frozen shoulder by increasing blood flow to the affected shoulder muscles, reducing pain, loosening tight muscles, and improving the mobility of the shoulder joint capsule.

Regular massages can also prevent the shoulder from becoming frozen in place again, which is vital for long-term recovery.

Q: What are the benefits of massage for frozen shoulder stages?

A: Massage benefits each stage of frozen shoulder differently. During the freezing stage, it helps alleviate pain and prevent further shoulder stiffness.

In the frozen stage, it helps maintain and improve any remaining shoulder range of motion.

Finally, in the thawing stage, massage promotes healing of the shoulder capsule by improving blood flow and joint flexibility.

Q: Can self-massage help treat frozen shoulder syndrome?

A: Self-massage can be an effective way to help treat the pain and discomfort associated with frozen shoulder syndrome.

Gentle massages and stretches can help maintain the mobility of your shoulder and assist in the recovery process.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any self-massage routine to ensure it’s best for your specific case.

Q: How often should I get a massage for my frozen shoulder?

A: The ideal frequency of massages for a frozen shoulder depends on the severity of your condition and your tolerance for massage therapy.

Generally, it is recommended to receive a massage 1-2 times per week during the initial stages of treatment.

As your condition improves, you may be able to reduce the frequency to once every 2-3 weeks, or as needed for maintenance and pain relief.

Q: Can electronic massage devices be used for frozen shoulder treatment?

A: Electronic massage devices, such as percussion massagers and handheld massagers, can provide relief from frozen shoulder pain.

However, these devices may not be as effective as traditional hands-on massage techniques in addressing the deeper issues with the shoulder muscles and joint capsule.

It’s best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance on using electronic massage devices for frozen shoulder treatment.

Q: What stretches and exercises can complement massage therapy for frozen shoulder?

A: Stretching and strengthening exercises can complement massage therapy and enhance the recovery process for frozen shoulder.

Some helpful exercises include pendulum swings, cross-body arm stretches, rotator cuff strengthening, and towel stretches. 

It’s important to perform these exercises under the guidance of a physiotherapist or healthcare professional to ensure proper form and prevent further shoulder injury.

Q: Can heat therapy be used alongside massage for frozen shoulder treatment?

A: Yes, heat therapy can be a beneficial addition to massage therapy for frozen shoulder treatment. Applying heat before a massage can help relax the muscles and make them more receptive to the massage.

Additionally, heat therapy can help alleviate pain, reduce muscle stiffness, and improve shoulder range of motion.

Always consult a healthcare professional before combining heat therapy with massage to ensure it’s appropriate for your specific condition.

Q: Is massage therapy suitable for all types of shoulder pain, like frozen shoulder?

A: While massage therapy may help relieve pain and promote healing for many types of shoulder pain, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis before starting massage therapy.

Some shoulder conditions, such as rotator cuff tears or severe shoulder joint inflammation, may require different treatments or additional interventions in conjunction with massage therapy.

Q: How long does it take to see improvement in frozen shoulder using massage therapy?

A: The duration of recovery from frozen shoulder using massage therapy varies depending on the individual’s condition, the stage of frozen shoulder, and their commitment to regular massage sessions and complementary exercises.

Some individuals may experience improvement within a few weeks, while others may take several months to notice significant progress.

For more information about how different massages can help different conditions, check out our ‘best massage for …’ page.