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Range Of Motion: What Should You Know

Taikhum Sadiq

We all depend on our muscles and joints working together properly to get around safely. The ability of our joints to move is called the range of motion. All our bodily movements depend on the range of motion (ROM) available in synovial joints.  

When we are healthy, our knees, elbows, wrists, etc., all can bend and flex to their maximum amount. However, their ability to move after an injury or surgery may diminish. Through therapy and exercise, we can regain most, if not all, of our range of motion. These exercises target the joints and surrounding muscles to increase flexibility and strength.  

What can cause my range of motion to deteriorate?  

When we are young, healthy, and active, our joints and muscles that control movement have a full range of motion. It means we can flex our knees, hips, elbows, etc., to their total capacity. However, an injury or surgery (such as a knee replacement) sometimes causes the joints and muscles surrounding them to lose flexibility. This loss of range can diminish stability and coordination as well as pain and stiffness.  

Also, as we age, we can lose some of our flexibility and range of motion. The disease can also be a contributing factor to joint stiffness. For example, Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis can cause joint stiffness and swelling.  

What is the normal range of motion?  

The range of motion of joints is measured in degrees. Your physical therapist measures your range of motion with a goniometer. These works much like a protractor, measuring angles. Fabrication Enterprises makes a baseline 360° clear plastic goniometer that can be placed on the joint to measure its range. They even offer a wall-mounted version that measures hip movement easier. 

 An arthrodial protractor is ideal for measuring all major articulations, utilizing a bubble level to identify the horizontal plane. There is even a small goniometer to measure small finger joints. These are often made of clear plastic or metal and even incorporate soft, comfortable materials.  

Measurement varies depending upon which joint we are talking about and the different movements that joint can make. The extension and flexion, abduction and adduction, and lateral and medial rotation all have normal values depending on the joint. In an article Carol Eustice gives some examples of the normal range of motion. They are:  

Hip Movement ROM (measured in degrees)
Hip flexion (bending) 0°-125°
Hip extension (straightening) 115° – 0°
Hip hyperextension (straightening beyond normal range) twitter
Hip abduction (move away from the central axis of the body) 0° – 45°
Hip adduction (move towards the central axis of the body) 45° – 0°
Hip lateral rotation (rotation away from the center of the body) 0° – 45°
Hip medial rotation (rotation towards the center of the body) 0° – 45°


                       Shoulder Movement ROM (measured in degrees)
Shoulder flexion 0° – 90°
Shoulder extension 0° – 50°
Shoulder abduction 0° – 90°
Shoulder adduction 90° – 0°
Shoulder lateral rotation 0° – 90°
Shoulder medial rotation 0° – 90°



                     Knee Movement ROM (measured in degrees)
Knee flexion 0° – 130°
Knee extension 120° – 0°



         Elbow Movement ROM (measured in degrees)
Elbow flexion 0° – 160°
Elbow extension 145° – 0°
Elbow pronation (rotation inward) 0° – 90°
Elbow supination (rotation outward) 0° – 90°



Types of Range of Motion Therapy  

  • Passive Range of Motion: PROM is when you do not use your muscles to move your joint. Your doctor or physical therapist manually moves your body while you relax or even in bed. These exercises should be done daily and can be spread out throughout the day. They should be done slowly and gently, avoiding jerky movements. Each joint should be moved as far as they go, stopping when resistance is felt. A machine called continuous passive motion machine (CPM) often provides a passive range of motion after knee replacement surgery.  
  • Active Assist Range of Motion (AAROM): active assist therapy is when you can move your injured limb but require assistance from another person or machine to help in order not to cause further injury or pain. It would be the next step of rehabilitation after a passive range of motion. It can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint without overstressing the injured area. You should stop if you feel pain.  
  • Active Range of Motion (AROM): active ROM is when you can use your muscles to move your limb or joint without assistance. It means you are moving independently after injury or surgery. Strengthening exercises are a form of active range of motion. At this stage, elastic bands and additional weights can strengthen weakened muscles. The use of additional resistance should be used in conjunction with continued targeted stretching of the area affected.  

Where to buy range of motion products?  

Instruments to measure the range of motion of joints, including fingers and toes, determine the distance and direction a particular joint can move to its full potential. HPFY offers a wide range of products from top manufacturers. 


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Taikhum Sadiq

Taikhum Sadiq

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Taikhum Sadiq has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2016.

He is an archaeology student and is passionate about learning about the past and how it impacts our future. He believes ...

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