Spinal Cord Injury Range of Motion Exercises


If the joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons are not exercised they will contract/stiffen which will affect your body in many ways. To keep these parts loose range of motion exercises are used. These exercises should be performed in a smooth motion as quick motions may damage the joints. As the top of each range is reached the position should be held for a count of 10. Consult your physical therapist for range of motion exercises that will best meet your needs.

The following are a few basic exercises which start from the farthest point and move towards the center of the body:

Heels

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight out.
  2. Have your assistant grab the heel, resting the bottom of your foot against the inside of their forearm, and place their other hand on your shin.
  3. Pull down on the heel and bend the top of the foot towards your knee.

Leg Rotation

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and relaxed.
  2. Have the assistant place one hand on the upper portion of your thigh and one hand under your thigh. Do not place the hands below the knee as this will cause excessive strain on the knee joint.
  3. Gently roll the leg from side to side, holding to a 10 count at the apex of each rotation.

Hip Extension #1

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and relaxed.
  2. Working with first one leg and than the other, have the assistant lift your leg at the knee until your leg is in an upright position.
  3. With one hand on the one the knee and one hand under the calf have the assistant push the leg towards your chest, holding to a 10 count.

Hip Extension #2

  1. Lie on your side with your legs on top of each other.
  2. Have the assistant place one hand on your upper hip and the other hand under the thigh, supporting the lower leg in the crook of their arm.
  3. Lift the leg to a 20 or 30 degree, holding to a 10 count at the apex of the rise.

Hip Extension #3

  1. Lie flat on your back with both legs in an upright position (knees straight up and feet flat).
  2. Have the assistant place each hand on a knee.
  3. Move the knees outward, in a wishbone movement, until each leg is spread sideways approximately 30 or more degrees. As your legs muscles become more accustomed to the this stretch the degree of the spreading can be increased.

Straight Leg Rise

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and slightly apart.
  2. Working with first one leg and than the other, have the assistant kneel  between your legs in a slightly hunched forward position.
  3. Have the assistant raise your leg and position your heel on their shoulder.
  4. With one hand on the leg that is still on the bed and one hand under the raised knee have the assistant straighten, which will raise your extended leg, holding for a 10 count at the apex of the rise.

Trunk Rotation #1

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and relaxed.
  2. Have the assistant raise and bend both legs, at the knees, towards your chest. Looks like a fetal position.

Trunk Rotation #2

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and relaxed.
  2. Have the assistant raise both legs, at the knee, until your legs are in an upright position.
  3. With both hands on the knees have the assistant rotate your legs from side to side, holding to a 10 count at the apex of each side rotation.