Range of motion is the direction and distance a joint can move when it is flexed or extended in certain directions. From a physiological standpoint, many people will try to use range of motion exercises to increase mobility in a particular joint. Stretching is considered to be one of the most common range of motion exercises and is used by physical therapists and doctors alike.
When a person has difficulty moving a joint, they are experiencing a limited range of motion. This can be caused by a mechanical problem within the joint, or a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
In physical therapy, there are three different types of range of motion exercises: active range-of-motion, active assistive range-of-motion and passive range-of-motion. Active range-of-motion occurs when the patient is able to exercise without assistance. Active assistive range-of-motion is when a patient requires some assistance from a therapist to complete an exercise. Finally, Passive range-of-motion occurs when specific equipment or a therapist has to complete the range of motion exercise for the patient. Essentially, there is no effort put forth on behalf of the patient.
The five most basic types of range of motion exercises include head turns, forward arm reach, knee lifts, back pat and rub and elbow bend and turn. Before you start a particular range of motion exercise, check your joints to see if there are any areas that are stiff. Next, exercise the joint that is most stiff. If stiffness continues, it is important to see your doctor. These exercises will allow you to reduce the stiffness in your joints and keep your joints flexible.
There is a specific range of motion that is recommended for each joint. Once a physical examination has been completed by a doctor, if it is determined that you have abnormal or limited range of motion in a joint, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan. In some cases, joint surgery combined with rehabilitative physical therapy may be recommended. The combination of the two procedures may help you achieve a normal range of motion in the affected joint.
Overall, range of motion exercises are very important to people of all ages. This is especially true for people suffering from various types of arthritis who could benefit from a balanced exercised program. Using range of motion exercises on a daily bases will allow you to enjoy exercise, feel better and enjoy your life more.