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Range of Motion Physical Therapy, New York City, NY

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Range of Motion Explained

Many times when we are injured or in pain, we lose the extent of our range of motion. Connective tissues surrounding joints (ie: fascia, ligaments, muscles and tendons) are often shortened due to trauma. This lack of range of motion contributes to pain, stiffness, loss of proper muscle function, problems with daily movement and hinders working out.  The list goes on and on. Our range of motion is vital to our daily lives, which is why range of motion is so important to maintain. 

I provide range of motion physical therapy for patients who have suffered injuries, are in pain or conditions limiting their range. Range of motion physical therapy can be achieved through hands-on techniques and therapeutic exercises.  Gentle hands-on stretching, joint mobilizations and myofascial release techniques can improve the pain and stiffness associated with range of motion injuries.  

Studies have shown that the earlier range of motion therapy techniques are applied for patients, the greater the gain in total muscle and joint range of motion are. If you are suffering from a limited range of motion due to an injury or just day-to-day stress on the body, please contact me as soon as possible for the best results. 

Range of motion physical therapy is the measurement of the amount of movement around a specific joint or body part, defined as the normal degrees of motion for a particular joint. In practical terms the question range of motion physical therapy addresses is, “Does the joint move the way it was designed to?” 

Influencing this motion are numerous structures: bone surface configuration within the joint, joint capsule, ligaments, tendons, muscles and fascia acting on the joint. A joint like the shoulder is complex because it has 3 degrees of freedom, meaning that it moves in 3 different movement planes. The knee is more simple because it has 1 degree of freedom, and it bends and straightens the way it is supposed to or it doesn’t. Range of motion physical therapy exercise refers to activity aimed at improving movement of a specific joint.

Range of motion physical therapy counters the factors potentially limiting movement, including: 

  • Pain
  • Fear or movement and reinjury
  • Swelling
  • Scar tissue (adhesions) from surgery or injury
  • Weakness and instability
  • Tight muscles / tendons / ligaments
  • Fascia / joint capsule restrictions
  • Sports Injury / Torn tissue (causes block in joint)
  • Bony abnormality

Range of motion physical therapy exercises are designed to move the joint and soft tissues with the purpose of preventing the development of adaptive shortening of fascia, muscle, tendons, joint capsule, ligaments, and contractures. In range of motion physical therapy exercises we focus on improving the extent of movement of a joint. The benefits of regularly moving your joints are: 

  1. Improves Circulation 
  2. Improves Muscle Strength 
  3. Maintains Flexibility 
  4. Reduces Pain 
  5. Enhances Physical Performance and Balance 
  6. Reduces Stiffness 
  7. Decrease Injury Potential 

Patients seeking range of motion physical therapy will be treated with a combination of 3 different types of exercise: 

Passive range of motion physical therapy 

Passive range of motion physical therapy exercise is performed by myself, your therapist, when your body is relaxed and you are not using your muscles to move.  This is important just after surgery when your body is too weak or in too much pain to move itself.  However, passive range of motion physical therapy can be performed and is beneficial in cases of chronic injury or pain too.  Movement is produced when I use my hands to manually move your painful and stiff body part such as your neck, shoulder, knee, or ankle.  I will use the appropriate, gentle techniques to relieve your pain and improve your joints optimal range of motion.  If paralysis prevents your body from moving normally, passive range of motion physical therapy may also be used to prevent contractures or skin pressure ulcers.  Passive range of motion physical therapy is extremely helpful during the initial healing phase after surgery or injury. However, I will perform a range of motion exercises throughout your recovery to ensure optimal pain improvement and return to normal activities.  

Active assistive range of motion physical therapy 

Active assist range of motion physical therapy is a joint or body part receiving partial assistance from me helping with gentle assistance. This range of motion can be the result from the majority of motion being applied by you, the patient, me, your therapist assisting you, or perhaps a half-and-half effort on the joint from each of us.  An example of active assist range of motion physical therapy is after shoulder rotator cuff surgery. You may be able to move your arm somewhat, but I may assist your arm to reach the full, desired range of motion to help limit the amount of stress and pain that may occur. Active-assistive range of motion physical therapy is typically used after injury or surgery when some healing has occurred and your muscle can contract, but protection is still required to prevent damage to your healing body part. 

Active range of motion physical therapy 

Active range of motion physical therapy involves movement of a joint provided entirely by you, the patient, performing the exercise. In this case, I will not apply outside force aiding your movement. 

Active range of motion physical therapy is used when you are able to start moving independently after injury or surgery, and little or no protection from further injury is needed. For example, turning your head side to side, sliding your foot toward your buttocks, or lifting your arms overhead are all forms of active range of motion physical therapy.  As your pain and range of motion improves, we will advance your strength by utilizing body weight, sports cords, and dumbbells to compliment your range of motion physical therapy exercises.      

Range of Motion Physical Therapy FAQ 

What is joint range of motion? 

Joint range of motion characterizes both the distance a joint and direction in which a joint can move. There are established ranges for various joints in the body. For example, one ​study a normal knee should ideally be able to flex, or bend, to between 133 and 153 degrees and extend so that it is completely straight. When the normal range of motion is reduced in any of the joints it is known as limited range of motion​. Be mindful as you age, it’s natural for joint range of motion to decline, but it can also occur with a number of health conditions, events, and injury.  With range of motion physical therapy, we want to optimize your body’s range of motion to keep you pain-free and enjoying your life’s activities.   

What can range of motion physical therapy do to help me prepare for and recover after surgery? 

As your physical therapist I can prepare you for surgery by providing an exercise program that targets the primary muscle groups affected by your condition. Increased muscle strength and flexibility will lead to a shorter and more successful surgical outcome. I can help you after surgery by increasing range of motion, strength, and mobility. The rehabilitation will also be focused on helping reduce pain associated with your surgical procedure. 

I just had orthopedic surgery; will range of motion physical therapy help me heal and recover faster? 

Absolutely! Physical therapy can minimize and even eliminate pain and swelling, enhance active and passive range of motion, and improve strength and endurance after orthopedic surgery. It’s important to note engaging in physical therapy treatment accelerates the functioning of the involved muscles, bones, and other soft tissues much more quickly and effectively than just “staying at home” after surgery. 

Can range of motion physical therapy help with arthritis? 

Those with arthritis commonly have trouble achieving a full range of motion in certain joints because of the inflammation, pain, and stiffness they feel. However not moving the joint or exercising the area at all starts a vicious cycle that leads to more pain, stiffness and loss of quality of life over time. Range of motion exercises are ideal for those coping with arthritis because you can evolve the exercises as your joints strengthen and get more flexible. The more regularly you exercise the joint, the less stiff and pain your joints will feel over time, allowing you to maintain the healthy, active lifestyle you enjoy. 

Patients often have to wait weeks or months to gain access to providers—long enough for conditions to move from acute to chronic.  The Palmer Concierge PT Team brings physical therapy to you, to meet your wellness goals with the convenience of a mobile service that comes to your home, office or hotel.  Our goal in providing personalized one-on-one care is to help you achieve a pain-free and healthy lifestyle.  We offer a mobile physical therapy experience in New York City, Brooklyn and The Hamptons that empowers, educates, and restores balanced healthy movement without the drive to appointments, having to re-schedule your day, or cope with crowds and traffic. –The Palmer Concierge PT Team

Reviews from Our Valued Clients

We can help you get back to your active and pain-free lifestyle with our personalized, one-on-one sessions, all in the comfort and convenience of your home or office.


Manny Frankel

Had a broken back and Jim and Matt came to give me Physical Therapy. I went from bed to wheelchair, walker, cane to walking up and downstairs in record time and have never looked back. Class act, highly recommend.


Neha James

I worked with Palmer Concierge for knee pain and loved my experience. Jim is a fantastic PT! He is very knowledgeable, attentive, and kind. His exercise programs are manageable and effective. He got me back to pain-free lifting and I’m very happy with my results.


Dan Crotty

I was essentially unable to walk even relatively short distances before working with Palmer Concierge Physical Therapy. Thanks to team though I’m now on my way to making a full recovery. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.

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