Physical therapist working with patient to improve range of motion

Helpful Exercises to Increase Range of Motion

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our team of capable, caring physiatrists is dedicated to helping patients regain mobility and reduce pain nonsurgically. By combining physical therapy exercises with a variety of other traditional and complementary treatments, we strive to enhance our patients’ quality of life as well as range of motion (ROM). 

What Is Range of Motion?

Range of motion refers to the full movement potential of a joint, including its flexibility and capacity to perform functional movements. ROM, essential for performing daily activities efficiently and without discomfort, varies from person to person and can be greatly increased by therapeutic exercises over a period of time. Full range of motion helps to maintain muscle flexibility, joint health, and optimal physical function.

Causes of Restricted Range of Motion

Several factors can lead to a restricted range of motion, including congenital abnormalities, aging, injuries, and surgical procedures: 

  • Aging: Over time, joints naturally lose some of their flexibility due to wear and tear, resulting in arthritis, bone spurs, and lack of joint lubrication, any of which can cause pain and limited range of motion.
  • Congenital abnormalities: Conditions present from birth, like scoliosis and torticollis, can seriously restrict range of motion and result in serious discomfort.
  • Injuries: Acute injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, sprains, and strains, can severely limit ROM during the healing process and beyond.
  • Surgical procedures: Postsurgical stiffness is common, as tissues around the operation site may become tight during recovery, partially due to scarring.
  • Other Conditions: Tendonitis, bursitis, and stenosis are examples of other conditions that can impair ROM by causing inflammation or narrowing of spaces within the body.

Though each of these factors affects joints and tissues differently, all may lead to limited mobility. Fortunately, each reason for restricted motion can be addressed (to varying degrees) by customized exercises.

Ten Exercises That Help Increase Range of Motion

Incorporating specific exercises into your daily routine can significantly improve your range of motion. Here are ten exercises recommended by our physiatrists:

Neck circles: Gently rotate your neck in a circular motion to increase flexibility and relieve tension.

Shoulder Circles: Rotate your shoulders forward and backward to loosen your shoulder joints.

Arm Raises: Extend your arms straight out to the sides and overhead to loosen shoulders.

Wrist Flexion and Extension: Bend your wrist up and down to maintain flexibility. 

Torso Twists: Rotate your torso from side to side to enhance spinal flexibility.

Hip Circles: Move your hips in a circular motion to loosen the hip joints. 

Knee Bends: While standing, gently bend and straighten your knees to strengthen the leg muscles and joints.

Ankle Circles: Rotate your ankles to increase flexibility and prevent stiffness.

Leg Swings: Swing your legs forward and backward, and then side to side, to loosen hip flexors and leg muscles.

Cat-Cow Stretch: Alternate between arching your back upwards and dipping it down while on all fours helps improve spinal flexibility and relieve tension.

Incorporating these exercises into your routine can help gradually increase your range of motion. However, it’s crucial to perform each movement gently and within your comfort zone to avoid injury. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we understand the importance of training our patients to perform exercises properly and carefully monitoring them as they learn exercise techniques.

Contact Our Skilled Range of Motion Specialists Today

Because we know how important it is to include you in the healing process, we will collaborate with you to develop a therapy program customized to your specific needs and preferences. In all disorders that involve a limited range of motion, exercises tailored to your particular symptoms and conditions will be part of the solution. By combining these exercises with our other proven therapies, we will help you broaden your range of motion as well as your insight into maintaining your own best health. Contact us today.