Range of Motion

Range of Motion


Kinesiologically speaking, ROM is an acronym for Range Of Motion, a common term relating to mobility. Throughout my years as a Massage Therapist I've learned a lot on this topic. Allow me to share my experiential insights.

1st Extreme: Not Enough

Stiff joints are a plague most prominent among the full-time and salaried working class in my opinion. Ironically, some of the more severe chronically tight muscles and joints afflict a majority of people in the health and wellness industry (aside from lawyers, who really require a new breed of therapist.) We're talking doctors and nurses mainly.

Part of the reason is that they virtually make NO time for hydrating and the production of frequent restroom visits. The second half to the equation is that they don't have the energy to deal with the extreme discomfort and arduous process of stretching severely dehydrated musculature after sacrificing so much, of themselves and their well-being, for their line of work. It's painful. It takes forever. It's a huge battle that requires way more effort than is beneficial or even realistic to maintain.

I don't even advocate stretching on tissues that aren't hydrated. The likelihood of fraying and tearing tissues is exponentially increased with underhydration or dehydration. It's too risky.

I have encountered a great number of ways that one can experience TOO little mobility, and through my line of work have also experienced the extreme opposite.

2nd Extreme: Too Much

Personally, my range of motion has always been great. Too great in fact. As a 9 year old with a burning desire to “become a ninja”, I was admitted into learning gymnastics. I quickly moved from beginner to intermediate skill levels, and after 6 months was learning with advanced level classmates. As a kid with an iron will to endure whatever pains necessary to realize my ultimate ninja form, I eagerly engaged in every activity I was instructed to. Long story short, I ended up being able to dislocate both of my shoulders from socket on command. I hadn't realized it was an uncommon occurrence until way later in life. Going through Anatomy and Kinesiology courses for my massage license revealed to me the facts… I had severely damaged both my GH joints in my youth.

Part of my philosophy with bodywork revolves around maintaining (not just attaining) a balance in everything. Right to left, up to down, back to front. That also includes mobility to stability. There exists too much of a good thing as well as a bad thing, as that is the nature of extremes. It is the cyclical nature of back and forth, up and down, stretch and contraction, that creates the mechanisms through which we function. It all traces back to balance and frequency.

Our bodies are meant for movement. We wouldn't have so many muscles if they weren't. We would in fact be much more like plants in that they are stationary and move so slowly it's imperceptible.

What really grinds my gears is the fact that us humans have been doing tasks meant for machines on 40 hour weekly work schedules. Now, it's cool that we can write and sew and drill these overly repetitious tasks into our musculature. In fact our bodies adapt to the tasks we demand of them. The downside is this: our bodies are like minimum wage employees. They give us ONLY what we ask for, they give reluctantly if neglected or overlooked, and never more than that. They give us the bare minimum of what we expect and hope for, and it's unreasonable to ask the body to go out of its way to accommodate us without proper compensation. This is where the magic of ROM comes into play.

Range Of Motion is a task designed to stretch your tissues FREQUENTLY throughout the day in a gradual way, constantly refreshing them on what you require without demanding drastic change all at once. Taking it back to the concepts of maintenance, stemming from the attainment of balance, which is always an ebb and flow. An undulation of back and forth. This is the basis of all life and function.

The takeaway message is this: developing a wide range of motion through ALL of your body's joints is ideal, so long as it's done with proper body mechanics in mind. “Body mechanics” is the factor that helps to give perspective on maintaining the ultimate balance with your physical structure.


2 comment(s)

Great question! There are conditions like RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) that do “lock up” the joints, severely limiting a full ROM to the disadvantage of the person with it. With little understood and anomalous conditions like this, I really am limited on my ability to provide a holistic solution to this important question.
Overall, no matter your faith or religion, studies have found that a positive attitude leads to health benefits that see some conditions reversed, nullified, normalised, corrected, etc…
That said, there’s the topic of pain which is even more elusive. Science has found that pain is truly an entirely subjective experience, which can also be curbed, nullified, etc through mental and physical exercises. Check out my article on Breath Control to gain a bit of an understanding to what I mean.
In the mean time, I would recommend working with the ROM that your joints will allow and supplement with petrissage type strokes to tissues, PNF stretches, and cryotherapy for repair and conditioning. I appreciate you taking the time to ask! Hope this helps!

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