Range of motion is very essential for the normal functioning of our body parts. Range of motion refers to how far one can move or stretch a joint. It is the distance and direction, the joint moves between a bent position and an extended position. This range of motion is restricted in various health problems like inflammation, injury, disease, muscle cramps, ligament strain, etc. The limitation differs from person to person. In this blog, we will throw some light on the various types of range of motion exercises that can be recommended by your physiotherapist to regain the movement and functionality of the affected joint. The physiotherapist designs therapeutic exercises to increase the range of motion and flexibility of the involved joint.
The range of motion exercises refers to the activity that is aimed to improve the movement of the joint. The movement of the joints is influenced by many structures like the bone surfaces within the joint, ligaments, joint capsules, tendons, and muscles acting on the joint. The range of motion exercise is the capability of the joint to go through its complete spectrum of motion.
The range of motion therapy is beneficial in recovery as well as healing from soft tissue and joint lesions, maintaining existing joint as well as soft tissue mobility, minimizing the effects of contracture, increasing synovial movement, and helping in Neuro-muscular re-education.
Regaining the range of motion in the joint is one of the first phases of injury rehabilitation, as well as an individual, can avoid injury and maintain well-being if he is aware of the range of motion exercises (ROM). ‌
The physiotherapist assesses the range and quality of the motion. The treatment plan involves many kinds of range of motion exercises. Among these, the most useful and common exercises are those which increase as well as facilitate a range of motion(ROM). ROM is used by physiotherapists to describe how much motion the patient makes with the joint or the part of the body. When the range of motion is affected, the patient finds it difficult to move the particular body part comfortably around the joint.
The ROM may be affected because of different causes like pulled muscles, sprained joints due to an accident or a sports injury, post-surgical, as well as the general lack of exercise, which may also result in a reduction in the range of motion. The ROM exercises target these injured areas. There are mainly three basic kinds of range of motion exercises for restoring and correcting the range of motion. These types of exercises are designed to treat the kind of problem the patient has and to assist him to rebuild strength as well as the range of motion without doing further damage. Depending on the injury, the patient is asked to do one or a combination of these various types of exercises:

  • Passive range of motion.
  • Active-assisted range of motion.
  • Active range of motion.
Passive Range of Motion (PROM)

This is the space in which the part of the body is moved with the help of someone or something creating the movement, such as a physiotherapist or equipment. The patient does not engage himself i.e., the patient makes no effort to move the joint. PROM exercises are beneficial when a situation such as an accident has left the patient bedridden or wheelchair-bound or paralyzed. If the patient cannot move, the physiotherapist will move the patient's muscles and bend his joints for him daily. The physiotherapist may even teach the patient's family members how to help him.

Assisted Active Range of Motion (AAROM)

This is the movement that occurs when someone helps the patient to do the movement. For example, an individual sits on a chair and lifts one leg in front of him as far as he can. Another person who may be a therapist or any helper can help the patient stretch his leg more than he would be able to if the leg is flexed by the patient alone by his muscles. The patient uses the muscles around the weak joint to complete stretching exercises with the help of a physiotherapist or equipment. Stretching a little beyond the limit is good for increasing the range of motion. But pushing too far may lead to a muscle tear or damage to a joint, while doing active assisted movement no one should push the patient to the point of pain.
Active Range of Motion (AROM)

This is the space in which the part of the body is moved by using the muscles and the effort is made by the individual himself without outside help. With AROM, the patient performs stretching exercises, moving the muscles around the weak joint without any aid. For example, lifting the leg above the hip to stretch the muscles happens within the active range of motion. The active range of motion is performed by holding movements or stretches for at least 30 seconds. By doing this, the strength of the muscles is built needed for a particular movement. The patient is made to do a variety of range-of-motion exercises that challenge his entire body and not a single muscle group alone. AROM exercises, strengthen the muscles when actively engaged in movement. This is good for overall health and improves mobility over time. ‌Range-of-motion exercises are done to maintain mobility and flexibility. In case of stiffness, mobility decreases, and in such cases range of motion, exercises may help regain the lost mobility. For example, if the patient's knee was injured, he must have stopped moving his knee during the immobilization period. Once the knee heals and is ready to bear weight, the patient finds it hard to move. That's because the knee has lost its range of motion due to the lack of use. The patient may bend and extend the knee but does not move to the full range of motion. The physiotherapist can apply pressure to the knee to move it just a little more than the body allows. This stretches the muscle and joints, thus increasing the range of motion.‌ Care should be taken to keep in mind that no range of motion exercise should cause pain also, while using a passive or active range of motion, stretching beyond the limit may cause damage. The patient should listen to his body and stop when he reaches the limit.

The range of motion is the measurement of the motion around a body part or a specific joint. There are established ranges that are considered normal for various joints in a body. For the joint to have a full range of motion, it must have good flexibility and each joint has its level of flexibility, expressed in the degrees.