The researchers at PT on the Net have received various questions regarding range of motion, such as, "How far down should my client squat?, Is rowing the bar to my chest dangerous?, Should the bar touch my chest while performing a barbell bench press?, and How far should I move with resistance?" To answer these ROM questions, as well as future ROM questions/concerns, it is imperative to understand the BASICS. Applying the basics to your individual questions will provide you with the process to answer range of motion questions/concerns, leading you to a safe and effective exercise prescription. Good Luck!
In order to address the many issues regarding range of motion, it is essential to first understand the different ROM definitions for fitness.
- Active ranges of motion (AROM) exercises are performed when the individual voluntarily contracts the muscles to move the body segment(s) through its range.
- Passive range of motion (PROM) is movement via an external force. PROM is normally the greatest ROM.
- Usable range of motion (UROM) is a movement pattern that is challenged for a specific activity, sport, or daily chore, without compromising joint stability!
- Resisted range of motion (RROM) is the ability to maintain a contraction while resisted. RROM will change in respect to goal, application of load, amount of fatigue, etc.
Traditionally, ROM is determined by how far the bar, machine or weight moves without regard to individual anatomy. This mentality may be valid if the goal is powerlifting (moving weight a specified distance, based on RULES of the sport). For all other fitness goals, AROM can be used as a guide to determine individual control and range ability before resistance is applied (see AROM definition).
Resistance exercises that travel beyond the movement limits of individual (AROM) will increase risk. To appreciate/apply this comment, just watch the bench presser who performs "Self CPR" because they did not control the deceleration of the weight. Using the chest as a trampoline is not healthy!
To stay within a safe and effective "zone" and to answer the question, "How far should I move through the exercise?" utilize the above mentioned ROM definitions, along with assessing the goals, wants, needs, and most importantly – the individual's level of readiness. Your client’s body should determine the ROM of the exercise, not the outside force!