range of motion exercises

How Range of Motion Exercises Enhance Your Workout

Range of motion exercises are typically performed to keep the body flexible. This is ridiculously important when it comes to weight lifting and building muscle. To break it down, there are two forms of the range of motion exercises: active and passive. Active exercises are those that are performed by the athlete himself or herself; whereas passive exercises are those that are performed by a trainer.

The goal of these exercises is to reduce stiffness and slowdown or prevent the freezing of joints. In simple terms, range of motion may be defined as the normal amount of movement of each joint. Every joint in the body has a particular range of motion and this range of motion is maintained by routine movements. Therefore, it is extremely important to regularly move all of your joints each day to maintain a normal range of motion. For the average athlete, this is very simple to do without even knowing it. If a complete range of motion is not maintained, it may result in stiff joints that may lead to pain and in severe cases, may also prevent a person from performing normal daily activities. When the joints of athletes aren’t maintained properly, it can lead to a sharp decline in their athletic performance.

If you are just started a workout regime, it’s always a good idea to have a proper assessment completed to determine the athletes capabilities and any potential obstacles. However, most athletes have little to no problem with range of motion exercises and maintaining a solid range of motion through regular exercise.

Without further ado, let’s get into the range of motion exercises…

Active Range of Motion Exercises

Active range of motion exercises are performed as a warm-up before engaging in exercise. Usually, these exercises are performed as part of a routine that takes only three or four minutes. To get an efficient warm-up in, start at the top of your body – the neck – and work your way down slowly.

Going slow and avoiding fast movements will help you get the most out of the warm up exercise. In case you feel discomfort or pain, you should ease up or stop. Normally, the discomfort will decrease with time.

For performing neck exercises, you need to face forward. You can do these exercises while sitting or standing. Your shoulders should be relaxed. You first need to gently bow your head and try to touch the chin to the chest. Bring your chin back to the starting position and try to tilt your head back as much as possible and then, bring your head back to the starting position. Similarly, you may perform side tilts by tilting your head to one side and then returning it to the starting position. Then repeat the exercise to the other side.

Shoulder exercises may also be performed while standing or sitting. You need to hold your arms down on the side with palms facing the body. If you are going to do these exercises in a sitting position, use a chair without arms. Raise your arm forward and then up over the head. Now bring the back to the original position and try to take it as far as possible. For side to side movement, you need to raise the arm to the side and above your head as far as possible. Bring it to the original position and take your arm across the body and tried to reach for the opposite shoulder.

Continuing down the body, the same exercises can be performed for the arms and the wrists. Simply rotate the arms or the wrists in a circular motion both forwards and backwards.

To work your hips, swing your legs from as far back to as far forward as you can. Then repeat with the other leg. Remember to move in a slow and steady movement and generate a full range of motion by going as far backwards and forwards as you can. You will likely feel a bit of discomfort and stretching in your legs while doing this which is completely normal.

The knees can be maintained by simply raising each leg off the ground – separately, of course – and bending it at the knee. Try to raise the knee as high as you can while doing this, as it will also help your hips.

The feet are then treated as the same as the arms and wrist. Simply rotate them in circles in each direction in a slow and methodical manner.

If you really, really, want to make sure you’re getting a full range of motion workout in, then you can even include your fingers and toes by wiggling them at the joints.

Passive Range of Motion Exercises

Passive range of motion exercises are similar to active exercises and the only difference is that these exercises are performed with assistance. Passive range of motion exercises are beneficial for providing a little more stress, strain and stretching to the joints and muscles. They’re also extremely useful when recovering from injuries and are routinely performed in physical therapists.

There’s a good chance you’ll feel discomfort in the beginning, you will become more comfortable in time as you develop a better range of motion. However, it is important to recognize the difference between discomfort and actual pain. If you experience pain while performing any exercise, it is important to stop immediately.

Popular Range of Motion Exercises

Some common exercises are also considered range of motion exercises. If you’re an athlete, you’re probably performing these exercises regularly. However, if you’re not, these exercises are typically recommended for getting rid of the stiffness and pain.

Popular range of motion exercises include squats, bends, push-ups, side vents, sit-ups, straight arm raises, leg raises, bringing the elbows back, and one leg jumps. It’s a great idea to use these exercises – either weight free or with light weights – as a warm-up before activities like high intensity cardio or engaging in strength training exercises.

Always remember that it’s extremely important to perform these exercises with correct form as performing these exercises with bad form may exacerbate or cause injuries. Again, regularly performing the exercises will reduce your risk of injury when you use proper form.

The Benefits of Range of Motion Exercises

There are a number of benefits associated with performing these exercises on a regular basis. Here are some of the major benefits of performing these exercises regularly.

One of the biggest benefits is that it helps in improving muscle strength. These exercises also prevent stiffness or weak muscles that are usually the result of little or no movement. When you don’t exercise and use your muscles on a regular basis, your muscles become weak and are not able to support proper joint function. Regular exercise helps in making your muscles and joints stronger. Various forms of resistance should be added to provide additional strength benefits.

If you’re not an athlete, or you’re an athlete recovering from injury, you’ll benefit from these exercises as these help in increasing and improving the body’s circulation. Improved circulation also keeps the muscles functioning and healthy. Without these exercises, the blood may pull in the extremities or lower torso which may lead to skin breakdown and various other detrimental health issues. Therefore, these exercises aid in enhancing your cardiac capacity which in turn helps to pump oxygen rich blood throughout the body.

Performing these exercises on a regular basis also helps in maintaining flexibility as joints become stiff without regular movement. Muscle atrophy and contractures may also occur due to a lack of regular joint movement. Contractures not only destroy the muscle tissue but also make the limbs curl inwards. This whole process is usually extremely painful but it can be avoided with the help of these exercises, when performed on a regular basis.

Overall, there are a number of different types of active and passive exercises that can help in maintaining a great range of motion. These exercises not only help in keeping your body flexible but also help in improving blood circulation and preventing muscle loss.

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