Range of Motion
I lost no range of motion after my stroke. I can still move my arms, legs, and feet every way they want to go. It looks funny because it’s lacking coordination but I can do it. Most of the time however, a stroke is going to cause a loss of range of motion(ROM). ROM consists of 2 things: joint ROM and flexibility. Joint ROM is how much motion that there is in the joint, so how far your elbow joint can bend. Flexibility is a muscle thing. Flexibility is how long a muscle can stretch out before tightening. A good example of this is at the hips. You may be able to bend forward at the hip joint a whole lot but have really tight(inflexible) hamstrings that prevent you from actively going through your full ROM. That’s why you can bend forward a lot more when you knees are bent. When your knees are bent the hamstrings are on slack so you take them out of the equation, they won’t prevent any forward bending. A stroke will often cause tone and/or spasticity in a muscle. Tone means a muscle is always contracted. Spasticity is a form of tone that gets worse when you try to move it. Well, when you try to move it faster. If nothing is done about all this tone, a contracture forms. That’s when your muscle permanently shortens and there’s little hope of it ever being full length again. So that’s why it’s so important to stretch. Keep your muscles as long as possible. If you can’t do it yourself, ask someone else to. Ask a physical therapist what needs to be stretched and how. There are principles in stretching called creep, load relaxation, and hysteresis. Creep is the ability of a tissue to elongate over time. The load relaxation principle means you can use less force, then relax, and still over time deform the muscle(stretch it out). Hysteresis is how much a tissue stays deformed(stretched) after you stop stretching it. Use these principles and keep your muscles long! I’ve used this post before but it’s a really good one!