Have you ever heard somebody talking about range of motion? Maybe you have, but what exactly is it? Range of motion (ROM) is the full movement potential of a joint, usually its range of flexion and extension. It is measured in degree of a circle and can be classified as active, passive, or a combination of both. To measure an individuals’ ROM, there are several devices that can be used. A Goniometer and an Inclinometer have a stationary arm, a protractor, fulcrum, and a movement arm to help measure the angle from the axis of the joint. For ROM in other parts of the body, it can be appropriate to use a tape measure.
If not kept, your ROM could potentially become limited which can cause problems down the road. Limited range of motion occurs when a joint has a decrease in its ability to move. This may happen due to a problem within the joint, swelling of the tissue surrounding the joint, stiffness of the muscles, or pain. To keep your ROM, it is important to perform range of motion exercises to improve/maintain the movements of your joints. The motion of moving your joints is determined by the shape of bone surfaces within the joint, the joint capsule, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that are acting on the joint.
The 3 types of ROM exercises include:
What is passive ROM?
Passive range of motion is the movement that is applied to a joint by another individual or a passive motion machine. When this range of motion is used, the joint of the individual completing the exercise is relaxed while another force moves the body part through the range.
Ex: Lying hamstring stretch with help of another individual
What is active ROM?
Active range of motion is when the movement of a joint is applied by the individual who is performing the exercise themselves. There is no outside force here to help.
Ex: Head tilts, forward and backward while sitting in chair
What about active assisted ROM?
This occurs when a joint gets only some help or assistance from an outside force. This ROM can result from the majority of motion that is applied by another individual or by the person who is exercising.
Ex: Shoulder internal rotation with towel
Range of Motion. Physiopedia. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Range_of_Motion. Accessed March 8, 2021.