Have you ever heard the phrase ‘a body in motion stays in motion?’ The more you exercise and complete range of motion activities, the better chance you have of maintaining strong joints and muscles. What exactly are range of motion exercises? Simply put, they are exercises that help you move joints in various directions.
There are many reasons for the importance of range of motion exercises. First and foremost, they help keep your joints flexible – essential to reduce strains and aches throughout the body. Range of motion exercises also help improve balance with consistent movements and can help keep pain levels to a minimum. When doing such exercises, there are a few things to keep in mind, such as:
- Practice movements with a physical therapist if you are having pain
- Keep movements slow and steady
- Stay consistent with a routine (do them with a friend if that helps)
Range of motion exercises are important for everyone – they keep the joints and ligaments healthy and reduce the risk of injury, but they are especially vital for those who have limited range of motion and even paralysis. Such exercises also help you avoid the possibility of having limited use of joint motions. If the limitation is extreme enough it’s called a contracture. Even those in good physical condition can benefit with range of motion exercises as they improve balance, stability and posture. A physical therapist works one-on-one with patients to develop a helpful routine that works on range of motion. Each movement is thoroughly explained and demonstrated by a physical therapist to ensure you understand the proper form in order to see results.
Examples of range of motion exercises include:
- Leg rotations
- Trunk bending and rotations
- Hip flexion and extension
- Hand abductions and extensions
- Neck movements
While range of motion exercises are essential in staying flexible and pain-free, the way in which such exercises are done is equally as important. Don’t try to get through these exercises quickly – they are designed to be done slowly for the most benefit! Here are some options for range of motion exercises:
Neck – Standing tall or sitting down and facing forward, relax and straighten the shoulders. Gently tilt your head forward, trying to touch the chin to the chest and hold before slowly lifting the chin back up to the starting position. Next, gently tilt your head backward as far as you can then slowly bring the chin back to the starting position.
Wrists – Standing or sitting down, place one arm out in front of the body, resting it on a table if needed. Move your wrist in a circular motion – clock-wise and counter-clock-wise. Next move your wrists up and down.
Knees – Lay flat on your back on a firm surface. Slowly bend and straighten your knee.
Hips – Lay flat on your back on a firm surface. With your leg straight slowly move it out to the side and then back to the starting position. Next, bend your knee then let your leg slowly fall out to the side and then back to the starting position.
Shoulders – Standing or sitting down put your arms out to the side at shoulder height and make medium size circles forward and then backward.
These are just a few examples to get you started. Always perform exercises to both sides and do a few repetitions of each – anywhere from 10-15 reps. Give these a try!
Until Next Time,
Stay Happy & Healthy