“The range, measured in degrees of a circle, through which a joint can be extended or flexed.”
Everyone has a different range of motion for any given joint. Take for example an Olympic gymnast. Watching this Champion compete leaves you in awe of her extreme flexibility. Someone without that level of training can appear quite limited in comparison with their range of motion. In reality, it is completely within that person’s normal range.
As we age, life circumstances have a tendency to affect our bodies, in ways that can significantly limit our mobility and overall movement. But what exactly are these life circumstances that can affect our range of motion as we age?
- Our overall flexibility and motion can be affected by muscle or fat mass. An overabundance of either can limit how far we can extend an arm or leg, or even how far we can bend over to touch our toes.
- The pain caused by injury will impact range of motion. When the body experiences pain the muscles surrounding the injury/pain will contract reflexively to prevent further injury. Examples include sprains, bruises, and dislocation.
- When our body is afflicted by disease, like arthritis or bursitis, the joints are affected causing pain and, once again, a limited range of motion.
- If muscles are not moved or stretched regularly they can become stiff and lack extensibility, which is flexibility and elasticity. That is why it is recommended that you stretch properly before engaging in sports or certain exercises like jogging.
- Scar tissue from surgery or injury can limit the movement of joints due to the loss of elasticity in the affected tissue.
Fortunately the body is an amazing machine that, if given the proper care, can rehabilitate itself. While many of us will never be that Olympic gymnast, or any gymnast for that matter, we can achieve the ideal range of motion for our age and body type. We needn’t limit ourselves due to contentment, ignorance, fear, or pain. Working with the right team of healthcare professionals – like a chiropractor, massage therapist, and rehabilitation specialist – will help you work you way back to optimal motion and flexibility, so you can stay there.
Never settle for anything less.