Static stretching can improve both active and passive ROM.
The range of motion in your joints can affect your quality of life. Range of motion is the amount of movement you have at each joint. It is related to flexibility and is an important part of an exercise program. Understanding both active and passive ranges of motion and their importance can help you improve your flexibility and performance.
Compare Active vs Passive
Your active and passive range of motion may be very different, not only from each other, but also at the joints themselves. Active range of motion means you move a joint through its range of motion, or ROM. Passive range of motion involves someone else moving a joint for you. Anytime you are moving your body, you are using active ROM. An example of passive ROM is if a doctor is testing a joint, such as the shoulder, and is moving it for you without your assistance.
Appreciate the Importance of Each
Active ROM is what you work with everyday and tends to be the type of ROM that concerns most people. If you have limited active ROM, you may have trouble lifting your arms overhead for exercising or putting away groceries, for example. It could also limit performance during sporting activities and thus increase the chance of injury. Passive ROM is not a concern for everyone, however. It is significant if you have a long-term or permanent change to your body, such as being in a wheelchair. You may not be able to move your joints, but having a nurse or therapist do it for you helps maintain ROM and can reduce pain or dysfunction. It is also used a lot for physical therapy if you have an injury.
Improve Your ROM
Active and passive ROM can be improved through stretching and even strengthening exercises. Dynamic stretches, such as arm circles, or pulling one knee at a time to your chest in a standing position, take strength and flexibility. It is good for warming up before a sport performance or exercise. Static stretches where you hold a stretch can improve both active and passive ROM. These are the stretches you do after a workout when your muscles are warmed up. Holding a stretch 15 seconds or longer can show greater improvements to your active ROM than shorter stretches, according to researchers from School of Health Sciences, University of Sunderland, United Kingdom, who published a study in the "British Journal of Sports Medicine."
Consider Factors Affecting ROM
There are many factors that can affect both active and passive ROM. Your lifestyle is a major contributing factor. If you are sedentary, or perform repetitive tasks throughout the day, you may have limited ROM. Injury or a chronic condition, such as arthritis, could also affect both active and passive ROM. Your body size can also limit ROM. If you are overweight, excess skin and fat could impede your movement. As you lose weight, however, you will notice that both active and passive ROM improve.