Range of Motion is a term normally used in weightlifting and biomedical contexts. It represents the measurement of the maximum distance that can be covered between the flexed and extended positions of any muscle group or a particular joint. (A joint is the place where two different bones come together – such as the elbow, the knee, etc.) The effort made to improve the distance between the flexion to extension is often termed as ‘range of motion’ exercises. In short, the range of motion represents the distance created by the flexion and extension movement of any particular joint.


How Do You Measure Range Of Motion


There are two levels of range of motion, depending upon the degree of resistance, which that particular muscle group or joint displays:


  1. Passive range of motion – this is when the exercise is done with external help – someone else moves the joint/ muscle group as in the case of physiotherapy when the therapist does the work.


  1. Active range of motion – this is when the person moves the joint/muscles himself/herself. The active range of motion is again branched into two types:


    1. Resistance active movements – these exercises are mostly used to increase strength and endurance. In order to do so, weights are added while the trainer or therapist applies pressure.


    1. Free active movements – this type of exercise is normally done to increase flexibility of the muscle or joint.


When are Range of Motion Exercises Prescribed


The range of motion exercises are prescribed for, (i) medical reasons – when there is pronounced reduction of normal range of movement, and (ii) the training of athletes – when such exercises are used to increase flexibility, strength and endurance of the joint.


What Are the Range of Motion Exercises


The range of motion exercises are either prescribed by the doctor for people who suffer from debilitating diseases such as arthritis, or by professional trainers for improving the performance ability of an athlete. The range of motion (ROM) exercises generally involves gentle stretching exercises, which prompt the joint to move and thereby improve its flexibility. These exercises need to be done on a daily basis to keep the joints from growing stiff and to prevent deformities. The ROM exercises bear special significance for people suffering from arthritis since these people would be afraid to move their joints for the pain and discomfort this creates.


Contrary to the popular belief that people can cover full range of motion of their joints through their daily chores, this is not what happens in reality. It does not matter how intense your daily activities, ROM exercises cannot be substituted with housework, or farm chores.


The ROM Exercises for Athletes


The ROM exercises for athletes are much different from those prescribed for arthritis or physical therapy patients. These involve exercises that are meant to increase the strength and flexibility of the muscle/joint so the performance of the athlete results in maximization of his/her output.


There are two types of exercises in this category, which aims to increase the strength of the muscle to support the joint better and hence enable the athlete to move faster, better and with more power, without any pain or discomfort.


  • Isometric exercises – these types of exercises help in increasing the strength of the muscles without moving the joints.


  • Isotonic exercises – these types of exercises help in improving the flexibility of muscles through exercises that involve moving the joints.


How to Get the Best Results from Your Rom Exercise Routine


The ROM exercises are critical for the training regimen of most athletes. These exercises are best done under the supervision and guidance of professionals, i.e. either qualified physiotherapists or qualified personal trainers. In order to get the best out of the range of motion exercises you should remember the following points:


  1. Avoid exertion – these exercises, if overdone, have an adverse effect on the muscle and joint. Hence, it is very important that these should not be pushed beyond the fatigue level.


  1. Warm up – ensure that your body has had adequate warming up exercises before going for ROM exercises, since the best results are when the body is free of stiffness.


  1. Intensity – it is very important in these types of exercises to have the build up done gradually. Too much, too fast can give some disastrous results.


  1. Regularity – the range of motion exercises need to be done on daily basis.