Range of Motion Exercises

Because people with paralysis do not have the ability to move all parts of their bodies, it is important to perform regular range of motion exercises. An effective range of motion exercise program can help you avoid contractures (permanently shortened range of motion in a joint), spasticity (muscle spasms), and pressure sores, while improving posture and trunk stability.

Failure to exercise on a regular basis can cause your joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to stiffen, which will impact your ability to sit and maintain posture. Lack of exercise can result in increased muscle spasms and increase your chances of developing pressure sores.

If you are not currently performing range of motion exercises, talk with your doctor, physical therapist or occupational therapist, as well as your caregiver, about a program that will meet your needs. You and your caregiver should understand the correct way to perform each exercise to achieve the desired results and not cause injury.

Sample Range of Motion Exercises

  • Wrist, finger, thumb and elbow abductions (spreading your fingers apart), flexions (bending your wrist, finger or thumb inward toward your palm), and extensions (extending your fingers, wrist and thumb outward, away from your palm)
  • Heel extensions
  • Leg rotations
  • Hip flexions and extensions
  • Straight leg raises
  • Trunk rotations and bending
  • Shoulder rotations and extensions

Direct any medical questions to a health care professional. Always consult with your physician before modifying any course of treatment.