Muscle and joint testing for flexibility, strength and range of motion
If you have pain or difficulty moving, your doctor may have you perform a series of tests that help determine where your limitations are and what types of exercises and therapies can help improve your condition.
Flexibility affects body’s ability to move naturally and comfortably
Flexibility refers to the ability of your body to move in expected ways. An injury or inflammation can limit joints and muscles from working comfortably together to produce movement. Flexibility testing may be done on any area of the body, such as the hamstring (back of the leg) to see how far your straightened leg can go towards your shoulders while you’re lying down, or your arm and shoulder to see if you’re able to comfortably reach behind your back.
Normal strength enables your body to move and perform in expected ways
Strength testing often involves your doctor asking you to move in a certain way while the doctor applies resistance to your movement. For a leg or hip condition, for example, you may be asked to sit on a table and extend your knees open, pressing as hard as you can while the doctor presses back against the movement. If you have normal strength, you’ll be able to adequately press against the resistance. If you have weakness, the doctor will be able to assess your body’s inability to press back.
Joints, ligaments and muscles move together to allow full range of motion
Tests for range of motion (ROM), as the name implies, allow your doctor to see if your joints are moving the full range expected for a particular part of your body. For example, the normal ROM for an elbow is from zero to 150 degrees. A special device called goniometer is sometimes used to measure exactly how many degrees of movement a joint has, and what the limitation is.
Your physician is likely to perform these types of tests if you have had an injury, are dealing with chronic pain, or have another condition such as arthritis, stroke or brain injury, or cerebral palsy.