Kelley Southard - August 22, 2022

10+ Easy Noodle Therapy Exercises

Pool noodle therapy is fun. Keep a bucket like this one full of foam noodles.

Get your neck, shoulders, posture, back and balance moving!

Pool noodle therapy? Yes! Never has a foam pool noodle found so many uses! Sure, kids love them around a pool. As a physical therapist, I love them as one of my useful props: another dime-store find that gets anyone moving. Brightly colored, left by your desk, it will catch your eye and remind you to get up and Noodle-DE-DO MOVE.

14 Easy pool noodle therapy exercises

  1. Swinging a pool noodle in each hand, alternate shoulders up and down. This is a great exercise for mobilizing the shoulders, strengthening the shoulder girdle. Instead of waving a heavy rope, moving these pool noodles will definitely strengthen your shoulder flexion muscles. Think of the air balloon man in front of the car dealership. Allow your torso, shoulders, and trunk to shift back and forth.
  2. Holding a noodle in each hand, open your arms out and in, to strengthen your pectoral chest muscles and your postural shoulder blade muscles.

Pool noodle therapy exercises are fun, this elderly woman discovered as she swung two pool noodles to strengthen her shoulders.

3. This pool noodle therapy exercise has you holding a noodle in front of you much like a golf club. Swing the noodle up and over your right shoulder. Bring it back to the middle, touching the floor. Swing the noodle up and over your left shoulder, back to the middle, then to the floor. Look over your right shoulder when lifting the noodle for trunk and balance challenges. Feel the lift in your rib cage when you lift the noodle over your shoulder, stretching your diaphragm.

4. Take that noodle and pass it around behind your back from one hand to the next. Circle the noodle around your body in front clockwise while in a standing partial squat position. Do it 10 times. Circle the noodle counterclockwise around your body 10 times. This will help with shoulder range of motion, posture, and neck stabilization.

5. With the noodle in your right hand, put the noodle over your shoulder and behind your back. Grasp the noodle behind your back with your left hand. Your elbows will be bent. The noodle will be diagonal across your back. This will stretch your shoulder blades in your shoulder joint. This is particularly good for those stretching from a frozen shoulder.

6. Take the noodle in both hands behind your back. Lift the noodle out, away from your back. This will stretch the front of your shoulders and lift your shoulder blades from your ribs. Do this pool noddle therapy technique 5 times.

7. Take the noodle in both hands behind your back. Bend your elbows, sliding the noodle up your back. This will stretch the rotators of your shoulder and lift your shoulder blades.

8. While sitting, straighten one knee at a time 10 times, kicking the noodle. This pool noddle therapy move strengthens quadricep muscles and increases the “joint juice” in your knee, otherwise known as synovial fluid.

9. While standing against the kitchen cabinet counter, hold the noodle about waist level and try to march and lift your knees up as high as the pool noodle. Alternate marching knees.

10. Place a pool noodle on the floor. Step forward with your right foot then your left, step backward with your right foot, then your left. This will force you to lift your knees and hips to clear the noodle.

11. Stand alongside the noodle on the floor, step over with your right foot then your left. Return to the other side with your left foot first and then the right. This is great for motor planning and helps you train your brain to leave enough space for one foot and then the other. This sounds a little silly, but many people say, “I tripped over my own feet” because they struggle with motor planning. Pool noodle therapy exercises help with agility and motor planning.

12. Placing several noodles on the floor in a row, use the noodles as an obstacle course for strengthening your walk after a joint replacement, ACL knee repair, or ankle injuries.

Stationary pool noodle therapy

13. Use a pool noodle as a lumbar support. Being inexpensive and easily cut into pieces, pool noodles can be left in your car. Take it with you while sitting in church or at work. The noodle supports the gentle curve of the lumbar spine, which may help with sciatica.

14. If you have neck problems such as cervicalgia, or radicular symptoms of numbness and tingling down your arms, it may be that the curve of your neck needs some support while you sleep. Use a pool noodle in your pillowcase as a support for your neck when lying on your back or on your side as in the picture.

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