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Carrington College Blog

How To Do Active Range of Motion Exercises

October 12, 2016

You’ve probably heard your parents complain #gettingoldsucks! If you’re lucky enough to be injury free, good for you! You haven’t had to deal with feeling stiff when you get out of bed. Aching ankles, tired legs, a sore back or knee pain when it rains – these are all common symptoms of past injury, or maybe just getting older (that’s something to look forward too, right?).

Maybe you have an old sports injury that flares up, or maybe you got a little banged up in a car wreck. Either way, watch Physical Therapy Technology program [1] graduates Cassy and Alex as they show us a few simple exercises that’ll get the blood flowing and help the healing process!


Injuries and inflammation heal faster with better circulation. These active range of motion exercises are great for firing up the muscles in your legs and getting the blood flowing. If you have an injury in the lower back or in the leg, you always want to warm up the lower muscles first before you work your way up the leg, which is why we start with…

  • Ankle Pops
    • Lie flat, and just flex and extend your ankles. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
  • Heel Slides
    • Lie flat, slide your heel back to raise your knee then slide the heel back down. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
  • Abduction Adduction of Hips
    • Lie flat and keep your leg straight, with your heel flexed. Then bring your leg out to the side as far as you can and back in. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
  • Long Arc Quads
    • Sit on the edge of a bed (if it’s high enough) or a high stool, flexing your foot, and bring your lower leg up and down straight out in front of you in nice easy, fluid movements. Repeat 10 times on each leg to get the blood flowing in your entire leg.

I bet you tried some of these while reading or watching the video didn’t you? Here’s PTT graduate Cassy to answer a few questions about these effective exercises.

Who should be doing these exercises?

“If you have any lower back, hip, knee or ankle issues or injuries, past injuries even, these exercises will help get the circulation going and really help you strengthen the muscles so you can get back to your active daily living.” 

When should we do them?

“The best time is first thing in the morning when you wake up because your muscles are stiff from eight hours of sleep. The older you get, the sorer you are in the morning so doing these exercises in the morning (and at night) is definitely the best option.”

I only injured one leg, why do these exercises on both?

“It’s important to do the same exercise on both sides of the body, even if only one side is injured, because if you don’t you’re going to lose muscle mass, or develop one side more than the other.”

How do these exercises apply in a hospital setting?

“If you’ve had hip, knee or ankle surgery for example, these exercises can help you recover faster. Typically within the first 24 hours after surgery a physical therapist, physical therapist assistant and/or physical therapy technician will help you get moving so you’re not so stiff. Doing these exercises can get you out of hospital faster, and back to your active daily living. That’s the goal – you want to be able to walk, stand up, and sit down by yourself without being in pain.”

So there you go! Try them for yourself, and share them with someone who could do with some ‘loosening up’! Click here to learn more about the Physical Therapy Technology.

[1] For comprehensive consumer information, visit

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