The answer to one woman’s frozen shoulder

You can’t tuck your shirt into the back of your pants anymore. It’s impossible to reach up into the cupboard for a coffee mug. Your shoulder hurts, and it hurts bad when you try turning, raising, or rotating your arm.  You’re not alone.

How would you like to be a part of a much happier gang? How about the group of people who recover from frozen shoulder on a speedier time table than 1 to 3 years without surgery?

Meet Debbie:

I had fallen off my bike last September resulting in a fractured shoulder, sprains, strains and inflammation.   I had several weeks of physical therapy but continued to have very limited range of motion.   I went several more months with pain when pulling on clothing, drying my hair, opening doors, etc.   I went back to my M.D.  for a “second round of physical therapy” which started this March.  I continued to get some additional range of motion, but was still limited.  I remembered that Matt had helped me significantly with a knee injury about a summer or two back. It took about 3-4 months on my knee, but I had gone from significant pain when walking downhill back to hiking peaks with virtually no pain at all! So, I scheduled an appointment for a myofascial release massage.

When Debbie came in, I hadn’t seen her in a year. From her pictures from the year before, I had an idea of what was going on.  When she showed up and told me that her shoulder had been diagnosed with “encapsulitis” (AKA frozen shoulder) and that massage therapists and physical therapists had been focusing on stretching out the shoulder and working out the “scar tissue,” I knew her shoulder wasn’t the problem. Whenever I hear the word “scar tissue” as a justification for a hands-on therapy, I get very suspicious (but that’s a post for another day).  Her shoulder was a symptom of a problem somewhere else.

Matt could see just by looking at me that the problem was more to tightness in my lower back and not so much the shoulder.  He worked on my back and within about 15 minutes, my shoulder had opened up allowing a very noticeable amount of improved range of motion!  Who would’ve thought!

So what tipped me off? Debra’s torso was visibly rotated.  Her whole upper body was twisting to the left (right shoulder and chest more forward than the left).  The muscles of her mid and lower back on the left side were much more prominent than those on the right, indicating a big, big muscular imbalance.

Now, if you want to see what a difference a twist can make, try this out yourself.  Twist your upper body to the left, and then GENTLY see what happens to your range of motion when you reach back to tuck your shirt into the back of your pants. Notice how your shoulder can’t seem to do it? Now untwist and relax. Raise your right arm up to the side as far up toward the ceiling as it can go. Now twist to the left and try it again.  See what happens to your range of motion?

That’s what a big deal a rotation can be. It can FREEZE your shoulder!

He reviewed my exercise regime from the last time I was there and suggested some more exercises.   I am 100% confident that if I use these exercises daily that I will retain full range of motion.  I can already feel that the muscles in my back have released and my shoulder is nearly pain-free.  These exercises work!!       ~ Debbie Tarczy

With a few simple exercises and a little reordering of her routine, Debbie is now able to progressively build balance back into her back muscles so that her shoulder muscles can re-learn their full range of motion!  There was no scar tissue stopping her, just faulty alignment elsewhere in the body.

Remember, each human body is ONE unit.  All parts of the body have the ability to affect other parts of the body.  The next time you hear “frozen shoulder,” remember to think beyond the shoulder (and at least as far as the back!).


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.