Ever wonder what it would be like if you were unable to bend your elbow to eat, walk without bending your knees, or look behind you without turning your neck? These are examples of the importance of range of motion to our everyday lives.
What is Range of Motion?
Range of motion is defined as the normal movements that a joint should be able to perform. For example, the range of motion in your neck means that you should be able to bend the head forward and backward, tilting the head down toward each shoulder, and turning the head from side to side.
If you have a proper range of motion, you will have greater flexibility and freedom to move in a variety of ways, such as reaching the top shelf in a closet or bend down to tie your shoes.
The following exercises are examples of range of motion techniques you can perform yourself or on an elderly loved one. However, great caution and care must be taken when performing these tasks. Always seek professional assistance and advice from a qualified medical practitioner or physical therapist before doing any exercise.
1. Neck Stretches
Slowly bring your chin down towards your chest and turn your head side to side. Hold each position for a few seconds.
2. Shoulder and Upper Arm Stretches
Hold a towel or elastic resistance band in one hand over your head and let the other side fall behind your back. Grab the loose end with your other hand and gently pull your arm down until you feel the stretch.
3. Chest Stretches
Extend both arms to the side with your palms facing forward. Reach to the back until you feel a stretch across the front arms and chest.
If you have a difficult time keeping your arms up, rather opt for a doorway stretch. This stretching exercise works the same way, except that you do it with the help of a doorframe. Put your arms against the frame and take a step forward. Be careful not to overstretch your muscles.
4. Lower Back Stretches
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet together. Your feet should be flat on the floor. While keeping the knees together, lower your legs to one side and twist your torso until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.
5. Hip Stretches
Lie on your back while bending your knees. Bring one knee out to the side of your body. Rest your foot against the opposite leg and gently push down until you feel the stretch. Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.
6. Quadriceps Stretches
Lie on one side and bend the upper knee, folding your foot behind you. Pull your foot towards your back until you feel the stretch. If you cannot reach your foot, use a towel or elastic resistance band to draw your foot nearer.
7. Hamstring Stretches
Lie on your back and extend one leg at a 90-degree angle to the body. Hold your leg around the back of your thigh and pull the leg towards you. Keep the other leg and your hips firmly on the ground, and don’t pull on the knee. If you can’t reach your thigh, you can also use a towel or elastic resistance band to make it easier.
8. Ankle Stretches
Sit in a chair and slowly move your foot up and down, and then side to side. Hold each position for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.
Benefits of Range of Motion Exercises
Here are just a few of the benefits gained when performing proper range of motion exercises:
Promote healthier sleep
Prevent pressure injuries
These exercises are great to improve your flexibility and range of motion of the muscles and joints throughout your body. It’s easy to do, and you only need minimal equipment!
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