Active Assisted Range of Motion Exercises for the Hand, Wrist, Elbow and Shoulder

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Active assisted range of motion, AAROM, exercises help improve range of motion in joints or limbs that have become especially stiff or weak due to an injury. When performing AAROM exercises, you use the strength of your stronger limb to assist your weaker limb in moving through the full motion of a stretch or exercise. If you've recently experienced an injury, ask a doctor, physical therapist or athletic trainer before you incorporate any exercises into your rehabilitation program.

AAROM Exercises for Hand and Wrist

  • Interlock your fingers with the thumb of the weaker hand on top. Using the strength of your good arm, slowly push your weaker wrist forward. Then, keeping your fingers interlocked, gently press your good hand against your weaker hand to bend your wrist backward. Next, use your good hand to rotate your weak hand at the wrist, turning it away from your body. Finally, use your good hand to rotate your weaker hand toward your body.

AAROM Exercises for Elbow

  • Extend the arm you're working on out in front of you. Straighten the arm fully, then bend your hand perpendicularly at the wrist so that your fingertips point toward the floor and your palm faces your body. Use your other hand to push against the back of the working hand for a deeper stretch. You should feel the stretch across the top of your forearm.

    Next, extend the arm you're working on straight out in front of you. This time your palm is facing up. Use your other hand to push the palm downward and back until you feel a stretch.

AAROM Exercises For Shoulder

  • To perform this series of shoulder-specific AAROM exercises, you will need a stick that is longer than your torso. Grip the bottom end of the stick in the hand of your good arm and the top end in the hand of your weaker arm. Hold the stick vertically in front of your body. With the strength of your good arm, use the stick to push your other arm up and above you. Go as high as you can without severe discomfort. Hold for a few seconds.

    Next, with your good arm use the stick to push the other arm up and out to the side of your body. Go as high as you can without severe discomfort and hold for a few seconds.

    Finally, hold the stick in front of your body, horizontally across your torso. Bend the arm you're working on at the elbow. With the strength of your good arm, use the stick to push against the arm you're working so that the shoulder rotates away from the body. Keep going until you feel tightness but no severe pain. Hold for a few seconds.

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  • Photo Credit Shoulder stretch as part of a Thai body massage. image by Deborah Benbrook from Fotolia.com
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