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Passive Range Of Motion Exercises


Passive range of motion exercises

help keep a person's joints flexible, even if he cannot move by himself. Range of motion is how far the person's joints can be moved in different directions. The exercises help you move all the person's joints through their full range of motion.

Contact the person's healthcare provider if:

  • The person feels pain with any movement.
  • You cannot move the person's body, because the joints and muscles have tightened.
  • You have questions or concerns about the person's condition, care, or exercise program.

What you need to know about passive range of motion exercises:

  • Do the exercises every day, or as often as directed by the person's healthcare provider. Regular movement helps prevent contractures. Contractures are severely tightened joints and muscles.
  • You may do the exercises in any order. You may spread the exercises out over the course of the day. All the exercises may be done while the person lies in bed.
  • Move the person slowly, gently, and smoothly. Avoid fast or jerky motions.
  • Support the area near the joint as shown by the person's healthcare provider. Move the person's body part with your other hand.
  • Each joint should be moved as far it will go. Move each joint to the point where you feel some resistance. The person may feel discomfort, but do not push to where it hurts. Hold the position a few seconds, and then return the person to a resting position.
  • Do the exercises on both sides. Do each group of exercises on one side, and then do the same exercises on the other side.

Neck exercises:

Support the person's head with your hands. Gently return the person's head to the middle, facing forward, after each exercise.

  • Head turns: Turn the person's head to the side. Then turn his head to the other side.
  • Head tilts: Tilt the person's head, bringing his ear toward his shoulder. Then tilt his head toward the other shoulder.
  • Chin-to-chest: Gently bow the person's head toward his chest.

Shoulder and elbow exercises:

Support the person's elbow with one hand. Hold his wrist with your other hand.

  • Shoulder movement, up and down: Raise the person's arm forward and then up over his head. Bring his arm back down to his side.
  • Shoulder movement, side to side: Raise the person's arm to the side as far as it will go. Bring his arm back down to his side.
  • Elbow bends: Place the person's arm at his side with his palm facing up. Bend and straighten his arm.

Arm and wrist exercises:

Support the person's wrist with one hand. Hold his fingers with your other hand.

  • Wrist bends: Bend the person's hand back toward his shoulder so his fingers point toward the ceiling. Then bend his hand down so his fingers point toward the floor.
  • Wrist rotation: Rock the person's hand back and forth sideways. Gently roll his hand in circles in one direction. Then roll his hand in circles the other direction.
  • Palm up, palm down: Tuck the person's elbow against his side. Turn his hand so the palm faces up toward the ceiling. Then turn his palm so it faces down.

Hand and finger exercises:

Hold the person's hand with both of your hands. Hold his hand out toward yourself, with his fingers long.

  • Finger bends: Curl the fingers into a fist. Straighten the fingers again. Curl and straighten each finger one at a time. Curl and straighten the thumb.
  • Finger spreads: Spread the thumb and first finger apart, then bring them back together. Spread the first finger and middle finger apart, then bring them back together. Do the same with the rest of the fingers.
  • Finger-to-thumb touches: Touch the person's fingertips to the pad of his thumb, one finger at time.
  • Finger rotations: Roll each finger in a circle in one direction. Roll each finger in the other direction. Roll the thumb in each direction.

Hip and knee exercises:

Start with the person's legs straight. Put one hand under his knee. Hold his ankle with your other hand.

  • Hip and knee bends: Slowly bend the person's knee up as close to his chest as possible. Then gently straighten the leg.
  • Leg movement, side to side: Move one leg out to the side, away from the other leg. Bring the leg back to the middle and cross it over the other leg.
  • Leg rotation, in and out: Roll one of the person's legs toward the other leg so his toes point in. Then roll his leg out toward the side so his toes point out.

Ankle and foot exercises:

Put a rolled towel under the person's thigh. For the ankle exercises, support the person's ankle with one hand, and his toes with the other hand. For the toe exercises, allow his foot to relax on the bed, and hold only his toes.

  • Ankle bends: Bend the person's foot so his toes point toward the ceiling. Then bend his foot the other direction so his toes are pointed.
  • Ankle rotation: Raise the person's foot slightly off the bed. Roll his foot in circles. Then roll his foot in circles in the other direction.
  • Ankle movement, side to side: Tilt the person's ankle in so the sole of his foot points toward the opposite leg. Then tilt his ankle out so the sole of his foot points away from the opposite leg.
  • Toe bends: Curl the person's toes down toward the sole of his foot. Straighten them. Curl the toes up toward the ceiling. Then straighten them again.
  • Toe spreads: Spread the big toe and the second toe apart, then bring them back together. Do the same with the rest of the toes.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.