Hesperian Health Guides

There Are 3 Main Ways of Doing Range-of-Motion Exercises

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 42: Range-of-Motion and Other Exercises > There Are 3 Main Ways of Doing Range-of-Motion Exercises



1. Passive exercise. If the child cannot move the limb at all, either you can do it for him...
an adult holding the hand of a boy lying down
A boy lifting his right hand with the help of his left hand
Who says I can't lift my arm!
or he can move the limb through its full range with another part of his body.


2. Assisted exercise. If the child has enough strength to move the affected part of her body a little, have her move it as far as she can. Then help her the rest of the way.
child lying on his back and lifting his foot while adult is observing
Try to touch my finger!
That's as much as I can lift it!
child lying on his back and lifting his foot while adult is observing
Good!
Now I'll help you lift it as high as it will go!
You keep trying too! I'll only help a little!
Look how high we can lift it together!


3. Active exercise. If the child has enough strength to move the body part by itself through its full, normal range of motion, then he can do the exercises without assistance, or ‘actively’. When the child can do it, active exercise is usually best, because it also helps maintain or increase strength.
If muscle strength is poor, have the child move his limb while in a position so that he does not have to lift its weight.
A boy lying down with his foor supported by a roller board
If necessary, support the limb with your hands, in a sling, or on a small roller board.
If he can lift the weight of his limb through its full range of motion, let him exercise in a position to do it. For example, he can lie on his side and lift his leg up sideways. If he can lift the limb’s weight easily, add resistance by pushing against the limb or by tying a sandbag to it. This helps strengthen the muscles for that motion.
A boy lying on his side while lifting his leg up
boy lying on his side lifting his foot up while a sandbag is tied to it
cloth bag filled with sand
As the child gains strength, gradually increase resistance (add more weight).


For many exercises, resistance can be added with stretch bands. Cut rubber bands from an old inner tube. The wider the band, the more resistance it will give.

a child sitting in a chair while her foot is put through a rubber band that is around the chair leg
Twist the leg in (and the hip out).
Child pointing legs out and stretching the rubber band while sitting in the chair
Twist the leg out (and the hip in).
This child is doing range-of-motion and strengthening exercises at the same time.




This page was updated:19 Jan 2018