Preserving Range of Motion
The extent of normal movement for a joint caused by flexion (bending), extension (straightening), abduction (away from midline), adduction (toward the midline), and rotation is referred to as range of motion.
An understanding of how the synovial joints move will help you realize how important it is to protect your joints. The end of the two bones that come together to form a synovial joint are covered by a slippery surface known as articular cartilage. The cartilage serves as a cushion to absorb shock, and also allows for unimpeded movement of the bones. The synovial joint is encapsulated and has a synovial lining within the joint capsule. Within the joint, there is a relatively small amount of synovial fluid which lubricates the joint.
The most common synovial joints include:
Ball-and-socket joints (hip, shoulder)
Ellipsoidal joints (joint at base of index finger)
Gliding joints (some bones in ankles and wrists)
Hinge joints (knee, elbow)
Pivot joint (in neck, allows head to move from side to side)
Saddle joint (in thumbs) •
Joints that are painful may need to be stabilized or splinted to allow rest and reduce stress. You don't want to continue to stress any joint which is already painful. Continuously using a splint or support is not good, however. It's best for you to exercise the painful joint gently, taking it through its full range of motion. As the joint becomes less painful, you should add activities so the joint is used, rebuilding muscle tone and function.
There are three classifications of joints according to Henry Gray's
Daily, gentle exercise which takes a joint through its range of motion is optimal, rather than a sporadic exercise schedule. Range-of-motion exercises will help you maintain joint flexibility.
Gently turn your head to the right, return to the front, and then turn to the left.
Tilt your head to one shoulder and then to the other shoulder.
Close your hand, then open it.
Touch thumb to each fingertip, one at a time.
Spread fingers wide apart, then bring back together.
Sit straight in a chair. Lift knee straight up about 3 inches off of the chair. Repeat with other knee.
Sit in a chair in normal position. Straighten leg out at the knee, then bring knee back down and have foot rest on the floor. Repeat with other leg.
Lying in bed, do leg raises by moving at the hip and keeping knee straight. Repeat with other leg.
Lying in bed, move leg out to the left and bring it back to center. Repeat with other leg.
Stand facing a wall. Balance yourself by placing your hands on the wall. Lift leg backwards. Repeat with other leg.
Bend foot down at the ankle, then bend foot up.
Make circular motions with your ankles, one at a time.
Straighten your arm at the elbow in front of you. Then bend arm up again at the elbow.
Straighten arm at elbow, then return your arm to bent position. Then raise your arm up toward the ceiling.
Lying down, raise arm at the shoulder above your head, keeping elbow straight.
Stretch arm across body as far as it will go.
Reach one arm up and try to pat yourself on the back. Reach the opposite arm behind your lower back. Try to touch your hands. Switch arms and repeat.
Curl wrist in and then move it back out.
Make circular motions with your wrists.
Bend at the waist.
With arms on your hips, bend to the right, come back to center, then bend to the left.
A physical therapist can show you a beginning exercise regimen and work with you to build upon your regimen. The physical therapy consult assures you are doing exercises properly and in good form.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, physical therapists encourage patients to use their own muscles to increase their flexibility and range of motion before finally advancing to other exercises that improve strength, balance, coordination, and endurance. The goal is to improve how an individual functions at work and at home.