range of motion exercises
Health and Wellness

Range of Motion Exercises for Back, Neck and Shoulders

Sep 22, 2022

The term “range of motion” is often used interchangeably with “flexibility” when it comes to dealing with athletic movement. While the differences may be subtle, however, they do refer to two different factors. Flexibility is the ability of a person to stretch, whereas range of motion refers to movement in joints or muscles throughout the body.


As you can expect, protecting and improving range of motion in athletes is essential to overall performance. Today, we’re taking a look at different range of motion exercises for back, neck, and shoulders as well as an easy way to maintain their benefits consistently.

What Is Range of Motion?


Before we dive into different range of motion exercises, what exactly are we talking about protecting and enhancing? Range of motion, sometimes shortened to ROM, refers to how far you’re able to move or stretch a part of your body, such as a joint or a muscle. This measurement of the fullest extent of your ability to stretch, flex, or move parts of your body can have a direct impact on athletic performance, making it crucial to consider.


When you look deeper into the term “range of motion” you’ll also find it’s broken down into two parts: active vs passive range of motion

Active Range of Motion


In an examination of active vs passive range of motion, you’ll find active range of motion to be the fullest extent to which you are able to move a part of your body by using your muscles. Think of it like the maximum range of motion that can be achieved when opposing muscles contract and relax of your own volition. A perfect example of active range of motion is the ability to bend your elbow as your biceps contract and triceps relax. Active range of motion is most often less than passive range of motion.

Passive Range of Motion


The counterpart of the active vs passive range of motion comparison, passive range of motion refers to the maximum movement ability of a joint or muscle when pressure is exerted on it from an outside source. This could be a source like a massage therapist or, popular with athletes, a full body massage chair. Passive range of motion is typically the maximum range of motion that a joint or muscle can move.

Range of Motion Exercises


In order for athletes to stay at the top of their game, it’s important to incorporate different range of motion exercises into their fitness routine. Range of motion exercises engage your “active range of motion.” These exercises are especially important for the back, neck, and shoulders. Range of motion exercises can yield positive results such as:


  • Enhancing athletic performance
  • Decreasing the risk for sports injuries
  • Bettering blood circulation
  • Improving muscle strength
  • Reducing stiffness or muscle soreness
  • Maintaining flexibility and mobility
  • Alleviating pain and supporting athletic recovery

Range of Motion Exercises for Back Health


Central to our ability to move, exercise, and even support our own body is the spine. The importance of spinal mobility makes range of motion exercises for back health a no-brainer! These exercises can help athletes improve balance, reduce the risk of injury, and increase athletic performance. A few easy range of motion exercises for back health are:


  • Chair rotations
  • Cat-cow stretches
  • Knee to chest exercises
  • Thoracic extensions
  • Superman exercises

Neck Range of Motion Exercises


You may come across neck range of motion exercises being referred to as neck mobility exercises. This is another example how these terms are often used interchangeably, even if not technically the same. Doing neck range of motion exercises every day can lead to improving your posture, stimulating blood flow, alleviating tension, and even increasing strength that helps protect you from common sports injuries.


Some of our favorite neck range of motion exercises (or neck mobility exercises) include:


  • Cervical head tucks
  • Neck rotations
  • Neck flexions and extensions
  • Upper trapezius stretch

Each of these stretches and neck range of motion exercises will help keep up your athletic ability and of the injured list!

Exercises for Range of Motion in Shoulders


It’s just as important to do exercises for range of motion in shoulders as it is for your back and neck! Improving and protecting the range of motion of your shoulders reduces the stress on the shoulder joint, reducing the risk of injuries or joint inflammation like bursitis. A few exercises for range of motion in shoulder are:


  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Arm circles
  • Shoulder blade pinches
  • Sidelying internal rotation stretch
  • Standing forward flexion

These exercises for range of motion in shoulders are meant to help you improve flexibility and gently increase the range of joint and muscle movement for the shoulder joint.

Maintaining Range of Motion for Back, Neck, and Shoulders


All of the range of motion exercises in the world won’t do athletes any good if they don’t know how to maximize and maintain the effects afterward. Part of your overall health and wellness is keeping your body in top condition before, during, and after physical activity.


Daily stretching and keeping active are obvious methods for maintaining the benefits of range of motion exercises, but what about ways to keep them up as you relax? In the past, athletes have looked to massage therapist appointments for this, but the continuous costs and difficulty to fit into busy schedules make that a pain. Instead, today’s athletes are turning to the benefits of massage therapy at home using full body massage chairs. The range of massage chair benefits for athletes makes these tools a must-have for athletes of all levels.


Today’s luxury massage chairs have evolved to effectively eliminate any differences between using a massage chair vs human massage. Offering a variety of different types of massage programs as well as additional massage chair features like heat therapy, chromotherapy, and zero gravity reclining capabilities, they’re incredible athlete recovery tools that can certainly help maintain the effects of range of motion exercises.


The importance of range of motion exercises for back, neck, and shoulders can’t be overstated for athletes. No matter your athletic level, these exercises help lower your risk of sports injuries and improve overall performance. To maximize the effects of these exercises, however, be sure to pair them with a recovery routine!


Ready to level up your post workout recovery routine? The Ogawa Master Drive AI Massage Chair is optimized for performance, giving you everything you could ever want from your massage experience.
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