The range of motion of a joint in your body describes how it moves. A healthy range of motion means you have the flexibility needed to perform daily tasks and engage in movements that you enjoy. It’s also good to be balanced so that one side of your body is not restricted compared to the other.
What Reduces Joint Flexibility?
In most people, the range of motion of their joints is larger in childhood and reduces as they age. This can be due to a large number of factors such as:
- Lack of use – When joints aren’t regularly used to their full potential, the body adjusts to reduce the flexibility of that joint.
- Injury – When the area around a joint is injured, scar tissues form that make it harder to articulate the joint are freely as before that injury. This is one reason physical therapy and massage following an injury are so important.
- Lack of exercise – When we exercise, we are moving are joints while also warming the body. Because our bodies are warm, are joints are able to move through their full range more easily.
- Chronic movements / Chronic sitting – When we stay in one position all day, it causes our bodies to adjust to that position. When may end up with joints that are chronically stretched and others that are chronically tight. This contributes to an unbalanced range of motion.
What are the benefits of a Healthy Range of Motion?
A healthy range of motion is an important aspect of a healthy body. Benefits include:
- Reduces the risk of injury. Muscles and ligaments can tear when performing tasks or exercises that require a greater range of motion than the body is accustomed to.
- Improves athletic performance. A healthy range of motion of the joints in the body means that load of muscles and joints is more equally distributed when performing strenuous tasks and trying to balance during exercise.
- Reduces aches and pains. When muscles and ligaments are tight or imbalanced, it’s a strain on the body when often manifests as physical pain.
- Improves posture. When the body is not restricted by tightness in the neck, back, or shoulders, we are able to stand up straight and tall.
How does Massage Increase Range of Motion and Flexibility?
In addition to it’s other benefits, massage is a great way to maintain or even increase your flexibility. Massage relaxes and softens body tissues, elongating them. Additionally, some massage techniques involve passive and active stretching techniques which target the flexibility of specific muscles. If you feel like you could improve your range of motion, talk to your massage therapist about incorporating techniques to specifically address flexibility.