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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Spinal Cord Injury: Flexibility Exercises
spinal cord injury (SCI) makes movement difficult.
Movement is what keeps your muscles and joints flexible and helps prevent
spasticity. If you cannot move your muscles and joints
easily, you may lose some of your
range of motion. This will make it harder to perform
daily activities, such as getting dressed or moving between your wheelchair and
another location. Flexibility exercises can help you retain your range of
Most people work hard to stay flexible. But it is possible
to stretch too much. This can make it harder to balance and to do activities
such as dressing yourself. Work with your rehabilitation team to come up with a
stretching program that is right for you.
You may be able to do
some of the flexibility exercises yourself. A loved one or therapist can help
you with others. It may be convenient to do your stretches in the morning or
evening at the same time you inspect your skin for
When you do these stretches, make
sure you have something solid behind you that does not move. You can try the
stretches in your wheelchair (make sure it is firmly locked) or in a bed
against the headboard. Different locations might be better for different
exercises. Experiment to see what works best for you.
stretches gradually, and never force the stretch. Do not push or bounce the
stretch. You should feel a "stretch," not pain. Breathe out as you begin the
stretch, and breathe in while you hold the stretch. Breathe out as you relax
How long and how often you do a stretch may vary. The
information below shows general guidelines. Always ask your doctor about what
is best for you.
A passive stretch is a stretch where
someone stretches a muscle for you. This type of stretch can be done for upper
and lower body muscles. Your rehab team will be able to teach a loved one how
to do these exercises. They include:
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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