Range of Motion Exercises for Arms & Shoulders

Range of motion exercises for arms and shoulders will help you improve your circulation, reduce stiffness, and help to keep your joints flexible. These exercises can be done once or twice per day. Range of motion involves getting your joints to move in the directions they normally would, without forcing them. Start the exercises gradually and increase the repetitions as you gain ability.

Shoulder Rolls

You can keep your shoulder joints lubricated and running properly by doing exercises known as shoulder rolls. Sit upright in a firm chair, says sitandbefit.org. Slowly and gently roll your right shoulder forward, then up, back and down. Do this rolling maneuver four times. Relax for five seconds. Repeat the exercise with your left shoulder. When you have completed rolling each of your shoulders individually, you can roll both shoulders at the same time. Do this four times.

Sitting Shoulder Circles

Shoulder circles will keep your shoulder’s rotator cuff joint fluid. Sit upright in a firm chair. Carefully lean over the side of your chair (if in a wheelchair) or to the side of your chair says sitandbefit.org. Be certain you do not slouch. Keep your rib cage lifted. While bent to the side, gently allow your right arm to dangle towards the floor. Keep it totally relaxed, including your fingers. Slowly begin circling your arm from your shoulder. All you need is a gentle push to begin this movement. Then, let your arm circle on its own. It will be like a pendulum. Do not be concerned about forming a perfect circle. Do eight clockwise circles. Then, do counterclockwise circles with your right arm. Return to your original sitting position. Repeat this exercise with your left arm.

Arm Circles

Doing arm circles will improve your range of motion. Sit upright in a firm chair. Place your arms on your lap with your palms facing upward, states the University of Washington Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Slowly bend your fingers towards your palm. Hold this position for five seconds. Slowly unbend your fingers. Start to bend your fingers again and flex your wrist as you do. Be certain to keep your fingers relaxed. Bend your arm at your elbow. As you are bending your elbow, bring your fingertips towards your shoulder. Place your fingertips onto your shoulder, but do not grip. While in this position, draw imaginary circles with your elbow. Make five circles. Unfold your arm and stretch it towards the ceiling. Hold this position for five seconds. Slowly lower your arm and place it back onto your lap. Repeat this exercise with your opposite arm.

Standing Shoulder Circles

You can also do a standing shoulder circle, says the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma website located at nismat.org. Known as a pendulum exercise, this range-of-motion exercise starts with you holding onto the back of a sturdy chair with your left hand while you are standing facing sideways. Bend forward at the waist. Slowly bend your knees so that you protect your back. Relax your right arm and let it hang limp. Make certain your shoulder blade is relaxed as you let it drop down. Use your upper body to swing your right arm in small circles. Do this five times in the clockwise direction and five times in the counterclockwise direction. Repeat with the left arm. Slowly return to the standing position.

About this Author

Crystal Welch has a 30-year writing history. Her more than 2,000 published works have been included in the health and fitness-related Wellness Directory, Earthdance Press and Higher Source. She is an award-winning writer who teaches whole foods cooking and has written a cookbook series. She operates an HON-code-certified health-related blog with more than 95,000 readers. Welch has a B.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.