Arm Range of Motion Exercises


Arm range of motion, or ROM, exercises are designed to improve mobility and flexibility in your arm joints. ROM exercises fall into two categories: active and passive. Active ROM exercises are those that you can perform yourself, while passive ROM exercises are performed on you by a helper. Ohio State University Medical Center suggests that arm ROM exercises improve blood flow, body symmetry and body awareness.

Elbow Flexion And Extension

The elbow flexion and extension exercise is an active ROM exercise that isolates your elbow joint. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Clasp you hands together in your lap. Keeping your hands together, extend your elbows as much as possible. Pause, then slowly bring your hands toward your chest by bending your elbows. Bend and straighten your elbows as much as possible without causing pain. Continue to alternate between flexion and extension until you have completed 10 repetitions of each.

Pronation And Supination

Pronation and supination are active ROM exercises for your wrists and forearms. Sit and clasp your hands together on your lap. Slowly rotate your hands so that your left hand is on top of your right hand. In this position, your left hand is pronated while your right hand is in suppination. Immediately roll your hands so that your right hand is on top. Continue to roll your hands until you have completed 10 flips with each hand.

Total Arm Movement

This exercise incorporates every joint of your arm into an active ROM arm routine. Sit with your hands in your lap, palms facing up. Bend your fingers inward toward your palm and then straighten them. Bend you fingers again and as you bend them, curl your wrists upward in a flexed position. From this position, bend your elbows bringing your fingers toward your shoulders. Keeping them bent, raise your elbows up and begin to draw imaginary circles. Draw four each way, then extend your arms and reach toward the ceiling. Pause, then return your hands to your lap. Complete the entire sequence two to four times.

Shoulder Flexion And Extension

This is an active ROM exercise that will help improve your ability to reach overhead. Stand or sit with your arms at your side. Keeping your elbow straight, slowly bring your right arm straight out in front of you and then up until you are reaching toward the ceiling. Pause here for a breath, then carefully lower your arm. Repeat the movement with your left arm. Continue to alternate arms until you have completed 10 reps with each arm.

Assisted Forearm Rotation

This is a passive ROM exercise that requires a helper. This exercise is appropriate if you are unable to perform the movements on your own. Sit in a chair and have your helper stand beside you. Have your helper lift your arm and bend your elbow to 90 degrees with one hand placed beneath your elbow and the other on your wrist. Have your helper rotate your forearm so that your palm faces away from you. Your helper then needs to rotate your arm so that your palm is facing toward you. Have your helper continue to rotate your forearm for 10 reps each way. Your helper then needs to repeat the exercise on your other arm.