Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android



At the completion of this chapter, the reader will be able to:

  1. Describe the three components of mobility and their differences.

  2. Describe the two different types of flexibility.

  3. Perform a goniometric assessment of each joint.

  4. Describe strategies to increase range of motion using different techniques.

  5. Describe the indications and contraindications for the various types of range of motion (ROM) exercises.

  6. Define active insufficiency and passive insufficiency of a muscle.

  7. Outline the indications and contraindications for continuous passive motion (CPM).

  8. Define flexibility and describe its importance in rehabilitation.

  9. List and describe two types of flexibility.

  10. Describe strategies to increase flexibility using different techniques.



Normal mobility is necessary for efficient movement. The terms range of motion (ROM), flexibility, and accessory joint motion are often listed as mobility components.

  • The ROM refers to the distance and direction that a joint can move. The direction in which a joint moves is described using terms like flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, and external rotation. Each specific joint has a normal ROM that is expressed in degrees. In physical therapy, goniometry is commonly used to measure the total available motion at a specific joint. A joint’s ROM may be limited by articulating surface shape, adaptive shortening of the muscles, and capsular and ligamentous structures surrounding that joint. Under normal circumstances, it is the muscles that move the joints. The full range of extensibility of a muscle is called its functional excursion. The excursion amount depends on the arrangement of the muscle fibers and whether the muscle is a one-joint or a multi-joint muscle (see later in this chapter).

  • Flexibility refers to the passive extensibility of connective tissue that provides the ability for a joint or series of joints to move through a full, nonrestricted, injury-free, and pain-free ROM. Flexibility is dependent on a combination of connective tissue extensibility and neuromuscular control. When an injury occurs, there is almost always some associated loss of the ability to move normally due to the pain, swelling, muscle guarding, or spasm. The subsequent inactivity results in a shortening of connective tissue and muscle, loss of neuromuscular control, or a combination of these factors.

  • Accessory joint motion is the amount of the arthrokinematic glide that occurs at the joint surfaces, termed joint play (see Chapter 1). Several anatomic factors can limit a joint’s ability to move through a full, unrestricted ROM, including the integrity of the joint surfaces, increasing age, and the mobility and flexibility of the soft tissues surrounding a joint. Before attempting to improve the arthrokinematic glide at a particular joint, the clinician must always consider the status of the neighboring joints in terms of their hypermobility or hypomobility (see Chapter 2). Joint mobilization is a technique that preserves or increases arthrokinematic motion. Techniques to enhance joint motion are described in Chapter 10.

A decrease in accessory joint motion, ROM, and/or ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.