You may not give your elbows much thought, but the elbows are important. They’re responsible for flexion and extension of your arm and allow you to move your hand in almost every position so you can perform day to day activities. The elbow is vulnerable to various strains and sprains, and that’s why it’s so important to work on elbow mobility and increase the range of motion in your elbows. If you have elbow pain, stiffness or immobility, we’re rounded up 7 of our favourite elbow mobility exercises to help you feel better.
What Are ‘Mobility Exercises’?
Mobility is the ability to move your body freely and easily. Think about mobility as the ability to move a joint and the accompanying muscles in the full range of motion it was designed for. Without good mobility, we’re limited in our performance of day to day activities like getting dressed and reaching for our coffee mug in the cupboard, as well as recreational activities like hiking, skiing or dancing.
Mobility is related to flexibility and stability, but they are not the same thing. Flexibility means the body can achieve a certain position. It’s a passive range of motion. Stability is the ability to maintain a desired position or motion, such as holding a plank or balancing on one foot.
Mobility exercises help relieve pain and soreness, build strength and decrease your chances of injury. They help you move through the spaces you occupy freely and without pain. Long hours spent typing at a keyboard can lead to elbow soreness or stiffness and can decrease your range of motion. Practicing mobility exercises can help relieve your joint discomfort and improve your daily functioning.
4 Elbow Mobility Exercise Equipment Essentials
7 Elbow Mobility Exercises to Improve Range of Motion
1. Elbow Flexion Exercise
Elbow flexion refers to your ability to bend your elbow, and this exercise will help improve your elbow flexion range of motion. Stand or sit straight with your arm down by your side, then actively bend your elbow up as far as possible. Grasp your forearm or wrist with your other hand and gently apply pressure. Hold the bent position for five to 10 seconds then release and straighten your elbow. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
2. Elbow Extension
If you’re having issues with fully straightening your elbow, this elbow extension exercise will help you. Sit in a chair with your elbow resting on the table (you can rest your upper arm on a pillow or folded towel if it’s uncomfortable).
Straighten your elbow all the way, then apply pressure to your forearm or wrist to add overpressure to the stretch. Straighten your elbow out as far as you can with overpressure and hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds. Release the stretch and allow your elbow to bend a little. Repeat the exercise 10 times. Consider holding a 2- to 3-pound weight to add some stretch.
3. Forearm Roll
If you’re dealing with tennis elbow or pain or stiffness in your elbow, rolling out your forearm is going to feel amazing. Sit on a chair and place a foam roller on the table in front of you. Place the back of your hand on the foam roller and slowly roll your arm back and forward. This will help with recovery and mobility. Do this for one minute on each arm.
4. Forearm Supination
Supination refers to your ability to turn your wrist over so your hand faces up. It occurs at both your elbow and your wrist joint. To do the forearm supination exercise, stand or sit with your arm at your side and your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Keep your elbow at your side and turn your wrist and hand over so your palm faces up. Use your opposite hand to reach under your extended forearm and gently add pressure by turning your forearm further into the supination. When you feel a stretch, hold it for five to 10 seconds. Repeat this for 10 repetitions.
5. Wrist Extensor Strengthening
This exercise works your wrist strength and mobility. Sit on a chair and place a resistance band on the ground. Place a foot on top of it and grab the end of the band in an overhand grip (there should be tension when you pull it up). Place your elbow on your knee and slowly pull the band up and release down, focusing on the muscles in your forearm. Repeat this exercise 15 times.
6. Forearm and Elbow Pronation
Forearm pronation is the motion of turning your hand over so your palm faces the floor, such as when you pour a cup of coffee, bounce a tennis ball with a tennis racket or turn the pages of a book.
For the forearm and elbow pronation exercise, stand or sit with your elbow bent 90 degrees and tucked in at your side. Turn your hand and wrist over as far as possible, then reach your other hand overtop of your forearm. Grab your wrist and turn your arm further into a pronated position, holding the position with overpressure for five to 10 seconds. Release the stretch and repeat 10 times.
7. Elbow Rotation
Sit on a chair or stand up straight and hold your arm out straight in front of you at shoulder height, letting your fingers drop down. The palm of your hand should be facing away from you. Place your other hand on the front of your palm and pull it slightly toward you. You should feel a stretch when the pressure is applied. Make sure your elbow is fully outstretched and rotate your hand side to side to target different muscle groups.
If you’re experiencing elbow pain, stiffness or discomfort, try these mobility exercises and stretches to feel better ASAP.
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