Passive and Active Range of Motion

When it comes to range of motion, there are two types. Active range of motion (AROM) and passive range of motion (PROM). AROM is when you move your own joints through their natural range of motion. Typically, AROM is used every day. You might actively raise your arms to reach a book on the top shelf, stretch your leg at the knee to hop over a puddle, or exercise daily using your full joint mobility.

If your range of motion is impaired, it can impact your quality of life. Whether it’s your active or passive range of motion, flexibility is crucial. Beyond moving your own joints (AROM), PROM can be equally as important. If you find yourself unable to move your joints, a physical therapist will use passive range of motion to stretch your joints, increasing flexibility and reducing pain.

You can stretch and strengthen your muscles to increase both active and passive range of motion. Dynamic stretches work on increasing both strength and flexibility to improve joint range of motion. You can also work on static stretches—holding a position for more than 20 seconds to deepen the stretch. You will want to make sure you are properly warmed up before performing stretches.