You may understand the term, ‘range of motion’ in a general sense. Most of us have a general idea of the concept. Your child may have no idea what range of motion means or how it is applied to their particular situation during physical therapy.


Therapists often use the term physical therapy to denote movement in a rotary cuff, swollen knee, sprained, ankles, or jammed finger. When describing the condition of a muscle or bone, however, you or your child may not know the implications as they apply to their overall health condition or further treatment.


Below, we cover what range of motion means and how it applies to your child.

What is a range of motion?

The range of motion is defined as the average degrees of motion for a particular joint. In other words, does the joint move the way it is supposed to? Joints may have a wide range of motion that allows them the flexibility to bend in different directions. Elbows, however, have a limited range of linear motion.


In either case, a full range of motion allows the joint to move freely from one side of the range to the next without resistance, pain, or stiffness

Two Types of Range of Motion:

There Are two kinds or range of motion for every joint:


1.      Passive: How far a joint moves without muscular force.

2.      Active: How much a joint can move without bending it.


The passive or Active range of motion can be limited due to the following:


●        Swelling

●        Scar tissue

●        Weak muscles

●        Tight tendons/ligaments

●        Torn tissue (causes a block in joint)

●        Bony abnormality

Restoring the Range of Motion

Restoring the range of motion is vital to children for three reasons:


●        It is part of the overall therapy process. In fact, the majority of physical therapy includes getting the muscles tendons, and joints to work in conjunction with one another to improve the full range of motion.

●        It allows children to return to their normal activities. Engaging in social interaction and activities is a vital part of a healthy childhood. Therefore, rehabilitation through physical therapy gives children’s leg, arms or other areas the strength it needs to return to play.

●        Full Range of motion minimizes the risk for future injury. Limited motion can inhibit children from fully functioning. Therefore, they are more likely to get injured again, because their muscles and joints are not working correctly.

Parental Involvement

Improving the range of motion, particularly following surgery or with a very swollen joint, is a painful process. Often, athletes will refrain from pushing through the pain with this particular limitation. It is the one time they need to push, and push hard! If your child's therapist is emphasizing the range of motion as part of treatment, it is essential to be proactive and supportive of that advice.


Joints that are restricted from a full range of motion must be addressed early in physical therapy before returning to sports. Fully functioning joints equal shorter rehab, fewer co-pays, and happier athletes, better able to perform at their best and with fewer injury problems down the road.

Physical Therapy Services in Lakeville, Minnesota

If your child has recently been injured or has undergone surgical care, Olson Family Chiropractic can assist them as they recover from their injuries. Our certified physical therapists can help you work through even the toughest injuries.


To schedule a physical therapy treatment sessions or come in for a comprehensive screening, call us at 952-431-7400, or you can message us at