Generally accepted values for normal range of motion (ROM

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Range of motion (ROM) measures the distance and direction in which a joint can be stretched. This varies from person to person. Think about your gym class. Some people may have touched their toes or even the palms of their hands on the ground. Others could not reach the ankles. Knowing your ROM can protect you from hype and injury.

Read on to learn more about the range of motion that is generally considered normal for various joints throughout the body.

Get Medication Information / Laura Porter

Joints and movements

When mentioning the joints of the body, most people think of their knees. You have many other joints, some of which you may not even guess. Joints are found anywhere in the body where bones, tendons, ligaments , cartilage, and muscles meet.

Most joints allow a certain amount of movement in one or more directions. Physical therapists use a device called a goniometer to measure your ROM. The device has two handles with a hinge in the middle. Your therapist will determine how much you can straighten, bend, or rotate the joint.

Each joint has a different range of motion for each type of movement it can perform. Some, like the joints of the skull, do not allow any movement.

Joint movements

  • You need to be able to move your joints to perform basic tasks like washing your hair. You also need to be able to move well enough to exercise and stay healthy. Some daily joint movements include:
  • Expansion: straighten the joint. For example, when you straighten your knee or elbow, you increase the angle between the bones of those joints.
  • Flexion : flexion of the joint. When you bend your knee or elbow, the angle of the bones in those joints decreases.
  • Abduction: movement from the center of your body. A good example is jumping or lifting an arm or leg to get dressed.
  • Adduction: movement back to the center of the body. A good example is to return the hand to the side after waving the hand or standing with the feet together.

Some joints, like the shoulders, are jointed. They can move in different directions. Like knees and elbows, other hinges are designed to open and close in the same direction.

Normal ranges of motion of the joint.

Your physical therapist or physiologist will measure and record your ROM. They will then compare it to the standard ROM value for that joint. During your medical history, they will ask your age. ROM standards differ based on your age.

Commonly used ROM values may differ in exact values depending on the source. However, as a rule, they are in a similar range.

Below are generally accepted normal ROM values for some individual joints, measured in degrees.

Hips

  • Bending: 0 degrees to 100 degrees
  • Back extension: 0 degrees to 30 degrees
  • Abduction: 0 degrees to 40 degrees
  • Coercion: 20 to 0 degrees
  • Lateral rotation: (rotation from the center of the body) 0 to 60 degrees
  • Medial rotation: (rotation towards the center of the body) 0 degrees to 40 degrees

Knee

  • Flex: 0 degrees to 150 degrees
  • Expansion: 120 degrees to 0 degrees

Ankle

  • Plantar flexion: (downward movement) 0 degrees to 40 degrees
  • Dorsiflexion: (upward movement towards the lower leg) 0 degrees to 20 degrees

Unique

  • Inversion: (turn sole inward) 0 degrees to 30 degrees
  • Inversion: (turning the sole outward) from 0 degrees to 20 degrees

Metatarsophalangeal joint of the foot

These joints connect the bones of the toes with the bones of the foot.

  • Flex: 0 degrees to 30 degrees
  • Expansion: 0 to 80 degrees

Interphalangeal toe joint

These joints are the middle joints of the toes. They allow you to flex your toes.

  • Flexion: 0 degrees to 50 degrees
  • Expansion: 50 to 0 degrees

Shoulder

  • Flexion: 0 degrees to 50 degrees
  • Expansion: 0 to 150 degrees
  • Abduction: 0 to 150 degrees
  • Coercion: 30 degrees to 0 degrees
  • Lateral rotation: 0 to 90 degrees
  • Average rotation: 0 to 90 degrees

Elbow

  • Flex: 0 degrees to 150 degrees
  • Pronation: (inward rotation) 0 to 80 degrees
  • Supination: (outward rotation) 0 to 80 degrees

Wrist

  • Flexion: 0 degrees to 60 degrees
  • Expansion: 0 to 60 degrees
  • Abduction: 0 to 20 degrees
  • Coercion: 0 degrees to 30 degrees

Metacarpophalangeal (MCP)

At these joints, the bones in your fingers meet the bones in your hands.

  • Abduction: 0 degrees to 25 degrees
  • Coercion: 20 to 0 degrees
  • Flexion: 0 to 80 degrees
  • Expansion: 0 degrees to 30 degrees

Proximal interphalangeal finger joint (PIP)

These are the middle joints of your fingers.

  • Flex: 0 to 120 degrees
  • Expansion: 120 degrees to 0 degrees

Distal interphalangeal finger joint (DIP)

These are the knuckles just below the nails.

  • Flexion: 0 to 80 degrees
  • Expansion: 80 degrees to 0 degrees

Metacarpophalangeal joint of the thumb

This is where your thumb meets the bones in your hands.

  • Abduction: 0 to 50 degrees
  • Coercion: 40 degrees to 0 degrees
  • Flexion: 0 degrees to 60 degrees
  • Expansion: 60 degrees to 0 degrees

Interphalangeal joint of the thumb

This is the middle joint of the thumb.

  • Flexion: 0 to 80 degrees
  • Expansion: 90 degrees to 0 degrees

Factors affecting ROM

Two important factors that can affect your ROM are your age and gender. The researchers studied the range of motion of eight joints in 40 men and women. They asked the participants to do different exercises and measured how far each joint could move. They also recorded how long it took them to complete each exercise.

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The researchers found a difference of almost 45% between the youngest and oldest participants in the leg exercises. The exercise measured the ability to rotate the foot in and out. They say that even older people without joint problems can have less ROM than younger people. Older people can also take longer to reach full ROM for any joint.

The researchers also reported that the female participants had nearly 30% more ROM in their hands than the men.

Stretching is believed to increase joint flexibility. In another study, researchers compared ROM values before and after stretching in a group of men and women aged 20 years or older. Stretching helped improve muscle stiffness in both genders. However, in women, this only increased ROM.

Limited range of motion

Limited ROM is when you can't move a joint as easily and fully as you should. This could be due to joint problems or injury to the soft tissue of the joint . Arthritis is the most common cause of joint stiffness and limited ROM.

Restoring ROM in the joint is one of the first stages of rehabilitation after injuries. Physical therapists often prescribe specific ROM exercises for each joint.

Exercise, stretching, and other forms of regular daily movement will help you maintain your ROM. If you have limited ROM, static stretching increases joint ROM. This involves stretching the muscle as much as possible and holding the position for 15 to 20 seconds.

One study also found that applying heat while stretching can be beneficial. Participants who used heat while stretching noticed a slight improvement in ROM compared to those who stretched without heat.

Types of exercise to increase ROM

Physical therapists often prescribe specific ROM exercises that are tailored for each joint and condition. These exercises allow for swelling, pain, and stiffness.

There are three types of ROM exercises:

  • Active range of motion : Perform these exercises without assistance to improve your ROM or prevent other problems from occurring.
  • Active auxiliary motion range : Do these exercises with the help of a therapist. This form is for when your muscles are too weak to perform their full range of motion, or when it is too painful for you.
  • Passive Range of Motion : You do nothing at all. Your therapist or exercise machine moves your joint and stretches the muscles. This type of exercise is usually done in the early stages of recovery from the procedure.

If you have limited ROM, your exercises will be designed to gradually increase your flexibility.

Summary

Range of motion, or ROM, is how much a particular joint can move or stretch. Knowing your ROM can help protect you from injury. Many factors can affect ROM, such as your age, gender, injury, and arthritis.

This article introduces generally accepted ROM ranges for gaskets that you can use to compare. If you think you need help, see your doctor and ask about physical therapy. Physical therapists can prescribe exercises to help increase your ROM.

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