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Shoulder Impingment/Capsulitis

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Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 1
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:47 am    Post subject: Shoulder Impingment/Capsulitis Reply with quote

Very Happy


Great to be here. I am drawn to Yin Yoga for the pace and benefits it brings to the body.

Can you tell me thoughts on Yin Yoga poses for Shoulder Impingment/Capsulitis? I have an injured shoulder (chronic) due to work situation and have received physio, massage, and accunpucture. I am also doing Yoga and light resistance training, plus swimming. I also focus on rotator cuff external and internal rotation with bands.

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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1076
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:23 am    Post subject: Yin for the Shoulders Reply with quote

We can apply the principles of Yin Yoga to any joint in the body, including the shoulders. Recall, the main principles of Yin Yoga are to - apply a stress, don't move, and let it soak in for time. Our connective tissues, being yin-like relative to our muscles, in the context of mobility and elasticity, are more safely exercised in a yin-way than in the more active yang-ways. There has been a couple of discussions in the forum in the past on Yin Yoga specifically for the shoulders, and to read them you can click here:


However, you are talking about a particular situation with your shoulder where a pathology exists. Is Yin Yoga a good idea for someone with Shoulder Impingement or Capsulitis? First, for readers who are not familar with these problems, a nice semi-technical description can be found here.


Why not read this article first and then come back to this discussion. As the article describes, there are many possible causes for impingement: "Causes of impingement include acromioclavicular joint arthritis, calcified coracoacromial ligament, structural abnormalities of the acromion and weakness of the rotator cuff muscles. " Treatment depends upon the severity of the condition, but generally includes mobilization of the joint with moderate muscular activation (for example, the exercises recommended are low weight/high repetition movements in one of three directions - internal rotation, external rotation and abduction).

The arm is not immobilized or put in a sling, because immobility can lead to capsilitis (frozen shoulder syndrome). Based on anything I have read, I do not believe that Yin Yoga during the rehab period would be wise. Gentle yang-movements are indicated. After the joint has healed, then perhaps some yin-type exercises, as described in the above noted posts, may help to strenghten and thicken the ligaments, helping to avoid future problems. But while you are healing, I probably would suggest sticking to the program your physio is recommending.

Hope this helps.
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Joined: 11 Nov 2019
Posts: 3
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there,
A friend of mine has frozen shoulder so she is not doing things like downward dog and I would like to suggest to her to try yin yoga rather than other yang styles of yoga.

I just read this post as well as the article you wrote on Yin Yoga being similar to SPS.

I saw that this post is from 2010 and your SPS article from 2019. Have your thoughts changed? Do you think that perhaps some yin shoulder work could actually benefit a frozen shoulder?

I’m not sure if this was addressed in another post maybe somewhere there is a lot of content on this wonderful forum.

I have never experienced frozen shoulder but from my little knowledge imagine it might be good to take the shoulder to a tolerable edge and hold for time, and with the belief that some positive stress on it would help to lubricate and “awaken” the tissue around the joint, and ultimately speeding up the healing process as well as becoming more aware and in tune with what the shoulder is sensing.
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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1076
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:22 am    Post subject: Yin yoga for frozen shoulder Reply with quote

Hello Amy

I would have to say, “Yes”, my thinking has evolved over the last 10 years. I do believe many people can use Yin Yoga to help with their frozen shoulder depending upon the cause. If the cause is due to adhesive capsulitis or to a period of immobility, then taking the shoulder to a tolerable range of motion, and staying there, moving again when possible, and staying there, could be a good way to increase range of motion and decreasing discomfort. As always, it would be best to do this with a yoga therapist or a physical therapist who can guide you personally.

Beth Spindler is a yoga teacher who suffered through this and used Yin Yoga to resolve her problem. She has a good article on Yoga International. In this article she gives specific postures which helped her regain her range of motion. As I recommended in my article on YinYoga for the Shoulders and Arms, she recommends shorter holds for the shoulder: 3 minutes should suffice.

Pain is something we want to avoid in a normal yoga class, however, when the body is damaged and we are using yoga therapeutically, pain may not be avoidable. Dealing with frozen shoulder therapeutically may hurt a bit, which is why it is a good idea to work with a professional so that you can be guided and know when the pain is okay and when it should be respected and back off.

I hope this helps your friend!
Good luck
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