How To Measure Shoulder Flexion Range of Motion

You’ve seen this scene often enough. While at the library, a girl tries to reach in vain for a book on one of the top shelves and fails miserably despite a second attempt. A tall guy happens to notice and helps her out. He reaches for the book, stretching his arms all the way up to retrieve it for her successfully. She is one happy girl. This just goes to prove that: One, chivalry is not dead. Two, the tall guy exhibits precise Shoulder Flexion Range of Motion.

Just what exactly is Shoulder Flexion? It’s a complicated name for a motor function that simply allows your muscles and joints to reach up high for something like a book on top of a shelf, a volleyball over the net, a tennis ball to hit with your racquet, and block a shot in basketball.

When you can’t do any of these, there’s something wrong with the set of muscles and joints in the shoulder area that can be pinpointed by measuring Shoulder Flexion Range of Motion.

Here’s how it’s done.

1.    Measuring tool. Accurately measuring Shoulder Flexion Range of Motion is performed through the use of a Goniometer. Taken from the Greek words Gonia (angle) and Metron (to measure), this tool is used in the practice of Physical and Occupational Therapy to measure the Range of Motion of joints and muscle groupings for example arm to elbow, shoulder to back. Looking at one, you will find that it is similar to a compass and straight ruler, just that this one is combined to form a single measuring tool.

2.    Measuring position

  • Ask your patient to lie flat on his back on a firm and smooth table.
  • You can make sure that he is lying down correctly on his back by asking him to bend his legs at the knees. This also alleviates unwanted pressure on his back.
  • His arms should be parallel to his sides with his palms open and facing inwards.

3.    Measuring procedure. Using your sense of touch, begin palpating or searching for the muscle mass on the upper arm feeling your way to his shoulder. You can also easily find this visually by asking him to rotate his arms forward and backward. As soon as you find it, place the Goniometer on this muscle mass and use your free hand to raise his arms way over his head. Adjust the Goniometer’s straight arm manually placing this on the shaft of the thickest bone near his elbow. Once angled on this position, you will get a reading for his capacity to stretch his muscles and joints. In medical terms, the Range of Motion of his shoulder.

Ideally, your patient should have a reading of 180 degrees and up for you to say that his shoulders are in great shape. If he experiences sharp, stabbing pain during the check-up, he should be scheduled for therapy to avoid exacerbating the problem. You should also seek professional help if other symptoms like numbness, tingling, and redness follows suit.


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