How to help improve range of motion

woman stretching

Being able to move your body freely and without pain is a great feeling, but having a limited range of motion can restrict those movements or potentially cause discomfort. Knowing how to improve your range of motion can help you perform both daily activities, such as bathing or eating, and conduct more complex movements, like running or jumping, to the best of your abilities. Read on to learn more about what range of motion is, why it matters, and how you can increase yours. 

What Is Range of Motion?

Range of motion refers to how far you can move different aspects of your body. In more technical terms, range of motion is a circumference-like measurement of how far you can move around a specific joint or body part. Everyone has a unique ideal range of motion based on factors like age, gender, and fitness level. 

Why Is Range of Motion Important?

Having an adequate range of motion matters for an array of reasons, including: 

  • Reduce injuries: When you have a restricted range of motion, you may be more prone to injuries. Having a limited range of motion can increase your risk of straining yourself or developing more serious medical issues, like swelling around your joints. 
  • Maintain usage of all muscles: Range of motion typically measures the movement around your joint, but many of your joints are vital to using and maintaining your muscles. When you have a better range of motion, it allows your muscles to activate for longer periods of time, which can also help build up your strength and endurance. 
  • Boost workout performance: People who commit to improving their range of motion can optimize the effectiveness of their exercise routines. For example, having a full range of motion in your shoulders can improve your ability to lift weights above your head. 
  • Enhance daily living: Whether you’re reaching for the top shelf in your kitchen or climbing the stairs in your house, you’re activating the range of motion for specific body parts, even if you’re not aware of it. Increasing your range of motion can help improve your ability to perform these and other types of tasks essential to your daily life. 

How Can You Improve Your Range of Motion?

Feeling like you have a limited range of motion can be concerning, especially if it’s accompanied by discomfort. Luckily, there are multiple efficient and safe methods that can help you improve your range of motion and ultimately enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Here are just some of the ways that you can extend your range of motion: 

Perform Dynamic Stretches Before Exercising

If you’re about to exercise, conduct some dynamic stretches first. Dynamic stretches refer to movements that explore a joint’s full range of motion. Dynamic stretches exist in contrast to static stretches, which involve holding your body in a specific position for at least several seconds. 

Dynamic stretches are great for increasing your range of motion because these exercises are targeted to explore the full physical range of a particular joint. Static exercises can be the best choice for your pre-exercise routine because they can help loosen up the stiff areas in your body prior to a workout. Examples of dynamic stretches include: 

  • Leg swings.
  • Inch worms.
  • Ankle inversions, eversions, and flexions.
  • Neck circles.
  • Lunges.
  • Arm circles.
  • Squats.
  • Wrist curls.

Do Static Stretches After Exercising

After you work out, perform static stretches. Static stretches are ideal for a post-exercise routine because after you work out, your muscles will naturally be more pliable. Strive to hold each static stretch for at least 20 seconds while extending the stretch as far as you can without being in pain or feeling like you’re straining. Depending on the muscles you’ve just exercised and the parts of your body where you want to improve your range of motion, you might want to perform some of the following static stretches: 

  • Shoulder stretches.
  • Neck stretches up and down or side to side.
  • Standing hamstring stretches.
  • Upper back stretches.
  • Bicep stretches.
  • Cobra poses.

Stay Hydrated

Not getting enough to drink can potentially restrict your range of motion or even increase your risk of injuring yourself while exercising or stretching. Make sure to stay hydrated, which allows your muscles to loosen up and your joints to explore their range of motion more fully. 

Use Breathing Techniques

When you’re exercising or performing strenuous tasks, such as when you’re carrying heavy objects, make sure to breathe properly. Taking shallow breaths or forgetting to breathe for periods of time can actually limit your range of motion, which might make you more prone to accidentally injuring yourself through over-exertion. If you notice that you’re not breathing properly during this type of strenuous activity, focus on moving your diaphragm to fill up your lungs with more air. 

Get a Deep Tissue Massage

Stiff muscles can potentially limit your range of motion. A deep tissue massage focuses on releasing chronic tension from your body and improving the mobility of your muscles. If you have specific body parts that you’re concerned about the range of motion for, you can ask the massage therapist to target these, or request a full body massage to help with your overall alignment. If you aren’t sure about getting a massage from someone else, consider giving one to yourself, such as with the help of manual or electronic massage tools. 

Whether you have a concern about your range of motion or other orthopedic issues that you’d like to have examined, Orthopedic Specialists of North Texas is more than happy to help. Feel free to get in touch through our online contact form or book an appointment with our easy digital scheduling tool. We’re ready to help you start managing any orthopedic pains or easing your movement restrictions so you can get back to living your full life.  


Image by Luemen Rutkowski is licensed with Unsplash License