The term range of motion refers to how well someone can move their joints. Unfortunately, most people tend to lose some range of motion when they age. Some reasons for this are injury, pain, arthritis, tight muscles, or lack of activity. Often older adults don’t realize how much range of motion they’ve lost until they begin to find it hard to do normal everyday things like shower, get dressed, walk, or cook. And, less range of motion makes it more likely someone will fall and get hurt. That’s why regular range of motion exercise is important for aging adults.
What Do Joints Do?
Joints, such as elbows, hips, and knees, are crucial for range of motion because they connect and cushion bones with fluid and tissue. As people grow older, their joints tend to lose fluid and tissue resulting in stiffness and pain.
Motion can be thought of as lotion for joints making it easier and less painful to move. This explains why joints may feel stiff following an extended car ride and move more easily after a long walk.
How to Preserve Range of Motion
The best way to safeguard range of motion is to keep moving, even when this is challenging. If you are the caregiver to a senior, here are some pointers to follow:
- Walking is the best exercise for older adults who still have good mobility. When the weather is too hot or too cold, malls are safe places to walk.
- For those who can’t walk, some range of motion exercises can be done while sitting in a chair or wheelchair or lying in bed.
- Make sure your senior is active every day.
- Encourage your loved one to challenge their body with new activities to improve strength, balance, and flexibility.
- Lifting weights can help improve strength. The weights don’t need to be very heavy.
- Tai chi or yoga can help with flexibility and balance.
- Check out local exercise programs that help older adults improve fitness and range of movement.
Stretching Is Important
To prevent injury, stretching should be done after exercising before the muscles and joints have cooled down. The body should slowly move into a stretch, and the position should be held for about a minute. Stretching may be hard but should never be painful.
Range of Motion Exercise: Obtain a Professional Assessment
If you are caring for an older adult who has lost some range of motion, it’s a good idea to talk to a medical professional before starting new range of motion exercises. The doctor can check for any problems in the joints, muscles, or brain that may be limiting motion and, if appropriate, can provide a referral to a physical therapist.
Are You Looking for In-Home Care in Columbia, SC?
If you are caring for someone with range of motion problems, Caring Healthcare can make sure the individual follows through on their exercise program. We specialize in treating older adults with mobility problems and special needs individuals (including children) who may be confined to a wheelchair. In these situations exercising to improve range of motion is especially critical. So, give us a call today to see how we can help you.