Range of Motion/Sit and Reach
Lesson developed by:
Heather Medema-Johnson, M.S, ATC, CSCS
A well-rounded physical activity program is an integral part of a strong, overall health, wellness, and fitness
is a major component of a well-rounded physical activity program and is defined as the
ability of a joint (or group of joints) to move through its full
range of motion
. Good flexibility can prove to be
beneficial for the musculoskeletal system. It may prevent injuries and soreness, improve body position and
alignment/posture, and improve performance in sports and other activities.
Because of the importance of flexibility, fitness and sports medicine professionals typically assess an
individuals’ level of flexibility before prescribing an exercise, sports training, or physical rehabilitation program.
Flexibility is joint specific, so there are no tests of overall general flexibility for an individual. Instead,
tests are used, which are based on linear and angular measures of the motion of a joint or group of
joints. Static measures are widely accepted as a common clinical method of measuring flexibility and range of
motion about a joint through the use of traditional goniometers and inclinometers. Commonly accepted field
tests of static flexibility include, among others, the
sit and reach test
, which evaluates combined flexibility of
the lower back and hips, and the supine straight leg flexion test, which evaluates hamstring and hip flexor
have been established, which aid the examiner in assessing an individual’s
level flexibility and ROM at a specific joint.
Traditional sit and reach test scores and traditional goniometry measures of the hip are difficult to record
throughout the range of motion. These traditional measures are only most effective at the beginning and end of
the motion. In addition, it is difficult to quantify very small changes or improvements in flexibility with a sit and
reach test alone. The BIOPAC electrogoniometer, however, provides a more effective method of overcoming
these limitations – it provides a means of looking at joint angle of the hip throughout the entire range of motion,
and it detects very small changes in the motion, as measured in degrees.
Measuring hip joint angle with an electrogoniometer in conjunction with the standard sit and reach test, the
straight leg flexion test
, and visual observation may allow an examiner to more effectively assess the
flexibility of the individual. An examiner using these combined measures may be able to more accurately