Flexibility is defined as the ability to move a joint, or series of joints, through a full range of motion (ROM) with ease and fluidity without restrictions. There are many different musculoskeletal injuries, conditions, and post-operative tissue disruptions that limit joint flexibility and range of motion. In addition, simply failing to move one’s joints through a full range of motion due to inactivity can overtime cause a loss of flexibility. Regardless of the cause, a loss of muscle flexibility can lead to a loss of mobility, lead to posture abnormalities, increase the risk for injuries, and lead to an increase in joint pain due to muscle group imbalance. Further, the collective of these will lead to a reduction in quality of life as certain activities of daily living movements may become restricted and painful.
In the setting of the physical therapy, occupational therapy, or chiropractic clinic, the ability to measure a joint’s range of motion accurately and reliably in degrees or a linear measurement in centimeters, is very important for the purpose of:
- Determining a person’s ROM at any given joint for comparison to a known norm or standard
- Comparison of dominant vs non-dominant side, or injured vs non-injured side
- As a benchmark in determining the success of therapeutic stretching interventions toward recovery after an injury, surgery, or prolonged immobility
- Monitoring range of motion gains overtime
- Determining when an individual may be ready to return to his or her sport, activities of daily living, or other activities that require achievement of a certain degree of muscular flexibility before participation
Flexibility and ROM Testing Devices
There are various muscle flexibility and joint ROM testing devices used to test the flexibility of different muscles acting on joints of the body. These include:
- Goniometers: A goniometer is primarily used to measure range of motion in degrees of joints located in the upper and lower extremities but can also be used to measure trunk or spinal range of motion. The body and axis of the goniometer are placed over the joint to be measured. The stationary arm of the goniometer is placed on the proximal segment/bone forming the joint, and the mobile arm placed on the distal or moving segment/bone of the joint. The change in relationship between these two arms as a joint moves through its available range of motion is measured in degrees. Goniometers come in large, medium, and small sizes to allow for ease of measurement at different joints in the body.
- Inclinometers: An inclinometer is primarily used to measure range of motion in degrees of the spine. They are used to measure spinal flexion and extension movement in the sagittal plane, lateral spinal flexion in the frontal or coronal plane, and spinal rotation in the transverse plane. Using the appropriate technique, an inclinometer can even be used to differentiate between the range of motion movements at the different spinal (lumbar, thoracic, and cervical) segments.
- Cervical ROM Spinal Assessment Device: This device is placed on an individual’s head and is strictly used to measure cervical or neck range of motion in degrees of flexion and extension movements in the sagittal plane, lateral flexion in the frontal or coronal plane, and rotation in the transverse plane of motion. It can also be used to measure degree movement at the sub-occipital joint. Using a specific technique this device can also measure the degree of rounded shoulders and forward head in the kyphotic or upper crossed syndrome patient.
- Sit and Reach Box: A sit and reach box is used to measure and assess the flexibility of the hamstring muscles and the low back extensor muscle groups. The linear measurement is recorded in centimeters (or inches) as the person sits on the floor with his or her bare feet placed flat against the end of the box and then reaches forward extending his or her overlapping arms/hands as far as possible pushing a sliding dial along a ruler atop the box.
Flexibility and Range of Motion Testing Devices for Sale from ProHealthcareProducts.com
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