Passive range of motion exercises

Passive range of motion exercises (PROM) are gentle movements of a joint or joints through flexion and extension. Moving a joint helps to nourish the cartilage, maintain function and is critical to the optimal healing of any injury. There is NEVER an attempt to push a joint to a painful end, rather a light two finger touch that gently, smoothly moves the joint. We suggest moist heat applied to the area and a pillow between the dog’s legs to allow proper body alignment. All joints in the body have some movement. We demonstrate appropriate technique of the listed joints in the following photos and video clips.


We utilize gentle pressure on the bottom of the foot, contacting the pads to mimic weight-bearing. Each toe can also be gently flexed and extended to maintain proper range of these small joints.

Carpus (wrist)

The wrist of a dog has movement in several planes. It extends and flexes as well as moves side to side. Most often we need to address dogs who have lost some extension. We normally suggest heating the affected joint, then move to the end of the movemnet and hold in a gentle stretch as demonstrated.

Hock (ankle)

The hock of a dog is like the human ankle. We will have an owner perform basic extension and flexion of this joint to maintain a normal range or to regain normal range. Most frequently dogs will lose flexion ability due to partial weight bearing (tip toeing).


Scapular mobilization: this movement is not a joint range of motion but rather the movement of the shoulder blade on the surface of the rib cage. The scapula can move in all directions on the rib cage.

Stifle (knee)

The stifle of the dog has flexion and extension movement as well as some rotation. We encourage basic movements after all knee surgeries as well as in rehabilitation or rear limb injuries. We will suggest heat or ice on the joint as appropriate.


The elbow is a hinge joint in a dog like it is in humans. The movements are slow and controlled as demonstrated.


Movement of the hip joint is critical to effective walking. Dogs may have hip pain secondary to a hip injury or to a problem in another limb. Maintenance of a normal range of motion in flexion and extension can help to avoid complications after surgery. Heat prior to movements is usually helpful. We suggest a pillow between the pet’s legs to maintain the limb parallel to the ground.