Mobility exercises in physiotherapy


Have you been feeling like you’ve lost some mobility in your shoulder or hip for a while now? Do you tell yourself that this is normal and that it is just part of getting older?

Actually, no! Your joints are supposed to maintain their range of motion if you use them regularly.

A rapid decrease in mobility or restriction associated with pain may indicate an injury or health problem. A physiotherapy consultation will allow you to check the causes of this decrease in mobility, treat it and obtain an exercise program.

Lyne, one of our patients who recently recovered from a shoulder capsulitis, learned the importance of mobility exercises in physiotherapy. This condition significantly reduces movement iin the shoulder and can last for over a year if left untreated.

This article will help you understand how mobility exercises can help you recover from an injury and why physiotherapists recommend them.

What is joint mobility?

Joint mobility is the ability to move a joint in different directions. The available amplitude depends on the structures (ligaments, muscles, nerves, etc.) that surround the joint.

What can reduce my ability to move freely?

Lyne is not the only one who has experienced a decrease in joint mobility. In fact, several health conditions can restrict mobility. Among others, bursitis and tendonitis are often treated in physiotherapy. More general problems such as osteoarthritis and arthritis can also limit movement.

Surgery or trauma can also cause stiffness in a joint. Pain, swelling and scarring are the causes of this restriction.

In all these cases, a consultation in physiotherapy is indicated. Indeed, it is important to perform the right exercises to recover mobility, otherwise it is possible to have long-term restrictions.

How do physiotherapy mobility exercises work?

In general, mobility can be restricted by three components of the human body;

  • The nerves
  • The muscles
  • The joint and what surrounds it (capsule)

Often, the restriction of movement does not come from a single component, but from a mixture of these three elements.

Thus, some exercises mobilize the joint and reduce its stiffness. Other exercises can increase the flexibility of the muscles, and nerves are worked with neural mobility exercises.

Mobility exercises and equipment

There are hundreds of ways to perform mobility exercises. Every physiotherapist has their own favourite exercises, but some tools make it easier to perform them. Among them is the foam roller, which can be used to work the back and legs. Balls can also be used to release tension points, while straps can help you mobilize a joint with the help of your hands.

For Lyne, a pulley and a rope allowed her to regain some mobility during treatment. At home, exercises performed with a stick helped maintain the mobility regained during the physiotherapy sessions.

Home exercices

At home, physiotherapists recommend doing mobility exercises a few times a week. A simple home exercise routine is easily accomplished. It is also possible to sign up for various sports activities such as yoga or pilates, which allow you to mobilize the different joints of the body.

For Lyne, a daily routine of stretching and mobility exercises provided by her physiotherapist combined with the treatments allowed her to recover in a few months. Without the exercises, her capsulitis would probably have lasted more than a year.

In short, mobility exercises are a form of exercise that aims to maintain or regain the range of motion of a joint. If you feel that any part of your body is moving less freely, do not hesitate to see a physiotherapist at our clinics. They will teach you the right exercises and give you the motivation to perform them!

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Vincent has a master’s degree in  physiotherapy  from the University of Montreal.  Vincent brings his knowledge of skiing as an instructor for the Quebec Foundation for the Blind since 2014. He also works as a lifeguard for Patro le Prévost, one of the oldest non-profit organizations in Quebec.


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