The Importance of Range of Motion Testing

Range of motion is the measurement of movement around a specific joint in the body. The range of motion around a particular joint, often called flexibility, can involve ligaments, tendons, muscles, bones, or joints as a whole. In order for a joint to have a full range of motion, it must have adequate flexibility.

range of motion assessment

Why is it important to have adequate flexibility?

Range of motion or flexibility testing is important in determining the cause and severity of issues you may be having with joint movement. Improper flexibility can cause pain, limitations in the activities of daily living (ADL’s) and it can even cause compensation patterns that may lead to more dysfunction.

How do we assess the Range of Motion?

A fitness coach can test your range of motion. This may begin with a simple physical exam, such as a functional movement screen. This test measures the body’s range of motion in various functional movement patterns. An assessment may also include the use of a goniometer – an instrument that tests the angle of joints such as your elbow or knee. When looking at one’s flexibility, we not only want to determine the degree of flexibility, but it’s also important to compare both sides of the body to one another to determine if there is a discrepancy. This can be accomplished using a Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) assessment. For example, if you can raise your left arm all the way up to your ear, but your right arm can only reach shoulder height. This is a clear display of a discrepancy in ROM and is considered to be a “red flag.”

wellness pathway ROM assessmentWhat causes limitations in flexibility?

You may think of flexibility limitations as being caused by just being “tight.” While this may be true in some cases, there may be other factors that limit your flexibility. One factor may be that your antagonist muscles are weak. For instance, if you have tight hamstrings, you may be dealing with weak quads. If you have a tight chest, you may have underdeveloped or weak upper back muscles. Another common cause of inflexibility could be an injury. If you’ve recently had an acute injury to a particular area, the body may be protecting that surrounding joint by not allowing it to lengthen to its “natural” active range of motion.

How can we achieve a balance of flexibility in our bodies?

You can start the process of checking your flexibility by scheduling a wellness pathway assessment with one of our experienced coaches here at AHWC. If you feel you would need a more in-depth analysis, or to address something specific, please reach out to Mike Sosniak, our MAT specialist, to schedule a full MAT Jumpstart analysis on you. In the MAT Jumpstart, Mike can see where you have range of motion discrepancies as well as strength discrepancies. He can find out what movements are weak or cause pain during the assessment. Using that information, Mike can use isometric contractions right on the massage table to help correct those discrepancies and bring your body back into balance.

Wellness Pathways are FREE for members! For more information and to schedule an appointment, contact Mike Sosniak: michael.sosniak@cuanschutz.edu.