Range of Motion in Joints: Why Stretching Is So Important

April 27, 2018

Joints, which connect your bones, typically allow for movement in predetermined directions. Each joint in your body has a different range of motion, which is the distance and direction a joint can move to its full potential.

Stretching helps to improve range-of-motion in your joints. In order to maintain healthy joints, they must go through their full range of motionon a daily basis. Otherwise, synovial fluid, a nutrient rich fluid, cannot properly fulfill its duties of circulating and coating the joint surface. Without this fluid, your joints will begin to feel stiff and deteriorate, causing issues like arthritis to form.

Causes that Affect Your Range of Motion

Some joints are not meant to move a lot. Not only that, but there can be several inherent and situational reasons why your joints are lacking proper mobility. For instance, bony structures can limit movement, as well as your muscles’ ability to contract and relax while moving. Age can also affect your range of motion.

When soft tissues that surround the joint are injured, that can cause reduced range of motion. Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can cause limited range of motion as well.

Improving Your Range of Motion

As mentioned above, stretching is a huge factor in improving range of motion. There are several types of stretches to keep in mind. Static stretching can be performed across multiple joints, or just one joint, depending on your muscles or tissues that are being stretched. This type of stretching should last around 30 to 60 seconds and needs to be performed once your physical activity is done, not before.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling can also help to improve range of motion. Similar to static stretching, it should be completed post-workout, helping to release stress and tension, and could even improve your recovery times.

This post was adapted from The Physical Therapy Advisor and Very Well Health. Read the full articles here and here.

If you have any questions about stress fractures, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.

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