Hate Stretching, But Want to Increase Range of Motion (ROM)?

We got you. AJ & Sam give you 4 amazing tips to increase ROM that are not stretches!

We’re hitting today’s discussion on range of motion from all angles with Studio SWEAT Trainers AJ and Sam. Range of motion, or “ROM,” is the distance and direction a joint can move (up, down, forward and backward, sideways, and in some cases like the shoulder, even in a circular rotation). While it can sometimes get lumped into talks about flexibility, range of motion is slightly different and equally important.

Why is ROM important?

  • Injury prevention. Proper range of motion in a joint will help prevent injury, while incomplete range of motion may be an indicator of injury. If you don’t have full range of motion in a particular joint, your muscles are likely not moving correctly. 
  • Mobility. Full range of motion will help you keep more mobile. This is important for elite athletes, as well as your Average Joe, and really comes into play as we age. Keeping those joints moving will keep all of us moving too.
  • Strength training. AJ loves to lift heavy weights. The better her joint range of motion, the heavier she is able to safely lift. Same goes for you.

How can you improve range of motion?

First, let’s all remember that if you have an injury to a joint, you should discuss any fitness program with your medical providers. These tips are for improving overall range of motion for your already healthy joints.

  1. Mind + Body work. Sam likes to incorporate yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, or other programs that focus on moving your body through its full range of motion in all of your joints. 
  2. Myofascial release. This is a form of therapy or massage of the tissue around your muscles. Part of AJ’s fitness routine involves a DIY version of this using a foam roller, just like in this video. Foam rolling your muscles on a regular basis will help break up the junk in your body, and better yet, a session with a foam roller is like a mini-massage. Just be sure you’re rolling your muscles, not directly on your joints. 
  3. Specialized strength training. One great way to improve your ROM is by varying the tempo and rep ranges for your exercises. Let’s say you’re doing squats. Slow down the tempo by dropping into the squat very slowly. Adjust the range by mixing in reps with quarter-squats or half-squats.
  4. ROM as part of overall fitness and health. Look at your exercise and fitness health as a pie where each piece is critical to the whole. You’ve got flexibility, cardio, and strength, as well as nutrition and hydration. Be sure that range of motion is also a part of this pie. 

While often overlooked in favor of its flexibility “cousin”, joint range of motion is an equally important component of your overall fitness. Just like other aspects of exercise, “if you don’t do it, you’ll lose it,” so the most important part of range of motion health is to incorporate these tips regularly, just like stretching for flexibility. And for the best body-sculpting, fat-torching AND range of motion workouts, check out Studio SWEAT and Studio SWEAT onDemand!