Our Range of Movement & Why it’s Important

Did you know that we can improve our physical well-being & avoid injury, if we are aware of our Range of Movement?

“Range of Movement (or Motion) refers to how far we can move or stretch a part of our body, such as a joint or a muscle. It’s different for each of us. For example, some people can do complete splits, but others can’t: their joints aren’t loose and their muscles won’t lengthen as far” [1]

Active, Passive, & Assisted Range of Movement

Active Range of Motion refers to the space in which we move a part of our body by using our muscles. For instance: if we stretch our muscles by lifting our arms towards the ceiling, this is happening within our active range of motion [1].

Passive Range of Motion relates to the space in which a part of our body can move when something or someone, such as a physical therapist, is generating the movement. In this instance, we are not accountable for engaging the muscles that we would ordinarily use to commence the movement and do the work [1].

Assisted Range of Movement, which is common during physical therapy, refers to the times when we need to build up strength and flexibility in a specific part of our body. – For example, when we sit down and lift our leg up as high as possible (in front of us). In these instances, physical therapists often help us stretch our leg higher that we could by flexing our leg muscle on our own [1].

What Are the Risks of Range of Movement Exercises?

“When we’re not in control of a movement, there’s a greater chance of injury. Another person can’t tell what our limit is, & may move our muscle or joint further than it’s normal range.
Stretching a little beyond our limit is good for increasing our range of motion. But pushing too far, may lead to a muscle tear or damage to a joint [1]

The Key Take-Away

“Stretching too far while using passive or active range of motion may cause damage” [1]

The most important thing to be mindful of, is that no range of motion exercise should be painful. Always listen to your body, and the second you reach your range of motion limit, stop [1]. Visit a Pain Specialist if you are experiencing acute or chronic pain in your joints. After reviewing your medical history, they will ask you various questions related to your condition. If they need to conduct any tests of scans, then these will be scheduled in as soon as possible. The Pain Consultant will then devise a holistic Personalised Treatment Plan, which you can get started on right away..


[1]. Brennan, D (2021). “Difference Between Passive Range of Motion and Active Range of Motion.” Jump Start WebMD.