If you’re seeking to relieve pain or restore function in your muscles, joints, or bones, physical therapy might be a suitable treatment option. One of the key techniques that physical therapists use is known as AROM, which stands for Active Range of Motion.
AROM refers to the degree of movement within a joint achieved by someone’s own muscular effort. It takes into account both voluntary and involuntary motion, such as muscle contractions and reflexes. It is an essential component of any rehabilitation program that aims to enhance mobility, flexibility, and overall physical wellbeing.
“The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to help people regain their independence, freedom and quality of life. Through AROM exercises, patients can perform activities of daily living more comfortably and effectively,” says Dr. Michael Piña, physical therapist at New York City-based Professional Physical Therapy.
In this article, we will dive deeper into what AROM involves, how it relates to other range of motion techniques, its benefits, who can benefit from AROM exercises, and examples of some simple AROM movements. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of how AROM can help you improve your physical health and live life to the fullest.
The Definition of AROM in Physical Therapy
AROM stands for Active Range of Motion and it is a crucial aspect of physical therapy. Generally speaking, the range of motion refers to how much your joint can move while operating normally. In contrast, active range of motion describes the same range of movement initiated by you through muscle power.
In other words, when medical professionals talk about AROM, they are referring to exercises that help patients increase strength and flexibility for various body parts and joints. It involves moving your limbs and performing functional tasks without assistance or limitations from any other external factors, such as gravity or a therapist’s force.
Understanding the Concept of AROM
A common misconception among people is thinking that passive movements assist with an individual’s recovery after an injury or surgery. However, research has shown that AROM is one of the most effective tools utilized by physical therapists to help improve stamina and overall mobility in patients. By engaging your muscles to control your limb movement rather than letting someone else do it for you, you gain more independence during routine life activities.
In addition, working on improving AROM also helps prevent complications such as contractures, which are stiffening at joints causing loss of function and tightness in connective tissues around them. These issues often arise when there is little or no activity or exercise following an injury or surgery.
The Role of AROM in Physical Rehabilitation
Physical rehabilitation aims to restore function and minimize pain in patients suffering from orthopedic injuries, central nervous system disorders, spine dysfunction and chronic long-term conditions like arthritis. Integrating AROM training into a physical therapy session is beneficial for many reasons:
- Pain Relief: increasing AROM helps relieve soft tissue stiffness contributing to discomfort. This happens because movement and exercise cause the brain to produce endorphins, a natural painkiller in the body.
- Joint Mobility: AROM assists joints, muscles, and tissues in regaining their range of motion and strength after an injury or surgery. This is critical for speedy recovery as it lessens the chance of recurring injuries.
- Better Body Mechanics: Working on increasing AROM helps with your overall posture and strengthens the core muscle groups which are important to perform everyday activities with ease and prevents problems like back and neck pain in later years.
It’s important to note that AROM exercises should be tailored according to the individual patient’s requirements by their Physical therapist. Each patient requires different degrees of attention and specific adaptations depending on their goals and medical history. It’s also recommended patients continue practicing these movements even after they complete their rehabilitation programs to achieve long-term results.
“The active range of motion exercises are essential for every joint being utilized regularly in daily functional tasks for successful outcomes” -Nejati et al., 2017
Improving AROM through physical therapy can significantly improve your quality of life post-injury, reduce your pain levels and prevent further complications down the road. Patients must engage with their healthcare providers regarding the options available for practicing appropriate exercises safely and effectively based on their abilities and limitations.
Why Is AROM Important in Physical Therapy?
In physical therapy, AROM stands for Active Range of Motion. It refers to the extent and ease with which we can move our joints through voluntary movement. Maintaining proper AROM is essential for your overall health and well-being.
Enhancing Joint Flexibility and Range of Motion
One of the primary benefits of engaging in AROM exercises is that it helps enhance joint flexibility and range of motion. By practicing such exercises, you will be moving your joints through their full range of motion actively. The more often you do this, the more flexible and mobile your joints become, improving your ability to perform everyday activities, sports or other fitness-related activities better. Additionally, maintaining good AROM ensures your body stays limber and agile as you age, allowing you to maintain an active lifestyle even in advanced years.
“Active range of motion exercise remains a cornerstone of rehabilitation programs across various orthopedic conditions.”
Preventing Muscle Atrophy and Joint Stiffness
If you’ve suffered an injury, experienced extended bed rest or undergone surgery, you might experience muscle atrophy. Muscle loss can occur rapidly, leaving your muscles weak and causing them to lose mass. One of the best ways to prevent muscle atrophy is by engaging in AROM exercises regularly. Through these exercises, you’ll engage your muscles and help keep them toned, preventing any significant declines in your muscle function due to disuse. In addition, regular AROM exercises also help to prevent stiffness in your joints, keeping them loose and supple, leading to decreased pain levels and increased mobility.
“Range of motion rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction is critical to long-term athlete success, additional surgeries are common with limited joint ROM”. – Dr. Stuart Warden
It is crucial that you maintain proper AROM to be able to go through your daily activities and improve overall functionality. The weaker a joint towards its end range of motion, the less stability it has to support itself. On the other hand, if you work on mobility above knee or hip level, this will help create extra space allowing freer movement head-on.
To get started with an AROM exercise regimen, consider talking to your physical therapist about exercises that target specific muscles and joints. They can help determine which exercises are best suited for your lifestyle and ability level. Additionally, they will guide you through each exercise’s proper technique and form ensuring maximum benefit and avoiding injury risk.
Maintaining good Active Range of Motion is essential for staying healthy and preventing injuries. With regular attention given to AROM exercises, you can experience increased flexibility, stamina, reduction in pain, stiffness, and muscle atrophy while enhancing your quality of life regardless of age.
How AROM Differs from PROM in Physical Therapy?
Overview of PROM and Its Significance in Physical Therapy
PROM stands for passive range of motion. It is a type of physical therapy technique used to improve joint mobility. During this technique, the therapist moves the patient’s body part manually through its full range of motion with no contribution from the patient.
The significance of PROM lies in its ability to maintain or improve the final stage of rehabilitation. According to Healthline, “PROM can help to preserve joint health by preventing contractures, stiffness, and loss of muscle tone.”
“Passive motion also improves flexibility and helps maintain muscle tone while reducing pain.” – Leslie Bruggemann, Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
Distinguishing the Differences between AROM and PROM
AROM refers to active range of motion performed by the patient on their own. This movement requires voluntary action from the muscles surrounding the joint being targeted. Unlike PROM, the patient initiates all movements and muscles are actively contracting and relaxing.
To distinguish the differences between both techniques; muscular activity when performing exercises is necessary during AROM whereas done without activating any particular muscle group will occur during PROM.
“A difference between these two types of range of motion includes that AROM involves active use of musculature, while PROM uses external forces,” says MyRT Evaluation Solutions.
It should be noted that some patients may require the assistance or supervision of a physical therapist when attempting AROM due to potential strength limitations or movement restrictions. Additionally, many therapeutic programs include both PROM and AROM, which work together to provide more well-rounded treatment plans.
Although both techniques involve moving a joint through its full range of motion, active and passive ranges produce unique benefits. Patients who can initiate muscle activity to achieve AROM will cultivate strength through progressive resistance training. In PROM treatment there is no active muscle contraction occurring but its beneficial for those suffering from contracted or tight muscles as it stretches the area.
What Are the Benefits of AROM in Physical Therapy?
Strengthening Muscles and Enhancing Balance
Active Range of Motion (AROM) exercises are an integral part of physical therapy. These exercises help to increase muscle strength, improve flexibility, enhance balance, and prevent injuries. They involve performing movements within the range of motion that a particular joint allows without any assistance from external forces.
When we perform AROM exercises on a regular basis, it helps to activate our muscles, which stimulates cell growth and strengthens them over time. The more we use our muscles, the stronger they become, and this helps to improve our overall mobility. It also enhances our sense of proprioception, which is our ability to know where our body is in space. This improved awareness makes us less prone to falls and reduces our risk of injury during everyday activities.
Improving Blood Circulation and Reducing Pain
Pain and inflammation are common symptoms associated with many medical conditions. Engaging in regular physical activity can alleviate these symptoms by improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
AROM exercises not only promote muscle strength but also encourage blood flow to tissues, which aids in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients required for their healing. Blood flow delivers essential hormones that reduce pain signals sent to the brain, which results in pain relief. Therefore, if you’re suffering from chronic pain or have limited range of motion due to arthritis or muscular imbalances, your therapist might include AROM exercises in your rehabilitation program.
Facilitating Faster Recovery and Enhancing Overall Health
The goal of physical therapy is to restore physical functionality and quality of life following an injury or disease. AROM exercises play a vital role in achieving this objective as they stimulate blood circulation, improve flexibility, encourage muscle strength, and support the healing process.
Moreover, regular AROM exercises can help to maintain overall health by strengthening bones and muscles, reducing stress levels, and boosting cardiovascular function. These exercises are safe for all age groups and fitness levels and do not require any special equipment or extensive training. So, if you’re looking for an effective way to enhance your physical fitness and recover from a medical condition promptly, it is crucial that you incorporate AROM workouts in your daily routine.
“Movement is medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” -Carol Welch
How Can You Improve Your AROM?
AROM stands for Active Range of Motion. In physical therapy, it is the range of motion a patient can achieve on their own without assistance from any medical personnel or devices. It is an important aspect to assess as loss of AROM can indicate weakness, muscular imbalance or injury. Maintaining and improving your AROM will not only help you with daily movements but also improve sports performance. Here are some effective stretching techniques and strengthening exercises that can enhance your AROM.
Effective Stretching Techniques for AROM Improvement
Stretching is one of the best ways to maintain and improve flexibility and extend the range of movement at your joints. Here are some effective stretches that could greatly help increase your AROM:
- The Cobra stretch: This helps stretch out your spine and improves lower back AROM. Lie on the floor on your stomach with palms facing down, place them beside your shoulders and lift your upper body up while keeping elbows close to your sides.
- Piriformis stretch: The piriformis muscle connects the lower aspects of your backbone to your legs through your hips, and tightness can decrease hip rotation and lead to pain. Place your right foot over your left knee, curl your leg towards your chest while simultaneously pulling on your right leg towards you
- Triceps and Shoulder Extension: Stand up straight with your feet apart shoulder-width distance. Bend your left elbow in front of your body such that your fingertips touch your right shoulder blade.
Strengthening Exercises for Enhancing AROM
In addition to stretching, strength training plays a crucial role in developing muscle mass as well as coordination and balance. Here are some strengthening exercises that can help enhance your AROM:
- Leg Press: This is a great way to work on lower body muscles in addition to improving thigh and calf strength. Sit with feet shoulder-width apart, push the platform away from yourself while keeping knees straight.
- Bench press: One of the most popular forms of weightlifting where you lie down under a barbell/similar weighted objects on a bench. Push up the weight from chest level till arms fully extend over your face.
- Bent-Over Rows: These target muscles across back, core, hips, etc., helping develop balance along with muscular strength while also enhancing shoulder movement range.
In conclusion, maintaining and improving your active range of motion (AROM) will help improve not only daily performance but also athletic achievements. There are several stretches and strengthening exercises for you to choose from that will improve your flexibility and coordination.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is AROM?
AROM stands for Active Range of Motion. It is the range of motion that a person can achieve independently, without any external assistance. AROM is an important measure of a person’s physical abilities and is often used in physical therapy to assess and improve mobility.
How is AROM used in physical therapy?
Physical therapists use AROM to assess a patient’s mobility and to design appropriate exercise programs. AROM exercises are designed to help patients regain strength and flexibility after an injury or surgery. They can also be used to prevent muscle atrophy and improve circulation in patients who are bedridden or have limited mobility.
What are the benefits of using AROM in physical therapy?
Using AROM exercises in physical therapy can help improve a patient’s range of motion, strength, and flexibility. It can also help prevent muscle atrophy, reduce pain and stiffness, and improve circulation. AROM exercises can be tailored to a patient’s specific needs and can be done at home or in a clinical setting.
What are some exercises that use AROM?
Examples of AROM exercises include shoulder shrugs, ankle circles, knee bends, and hip rotations. These exercises can be done with or without resistance bands or weights and can be modified to suit a patient’s physical abilities and limitations.
How does AROM differ from PROM and AAROM?
PROM stands for Passive Range of Motion, which is the range of motion that a joint can achieve with the help of an external force. AAROM stands for Active-Assisted Range of Motion, which is the range of motion that a person can achieve with some external assistance. AROM, on the other hand, is the range of motion that a person can achieve independently.
What precautions should be taken when using AROM in physical therapy?
Physical therapists should ensure that patients are properly warmed up before doing AROM exercises and that they use correct form and technique to avoid injury. Patients with joint instability or severe pain should be monitored closely during AROM exercises. Patients should also be encouraged to stop or modify the exercise if they experience pain or discomfort.