Active Range of Motion

Active Range of Motion Routine

Active Range of Motion (AROM) is the first component of the movement work in theCastleMethod.

The term ‘stretching’ is so often used, and there are so many different ways and reasons to stretch, that the term itself, while common, can often be misinterpreted as some particular activity one may be familiar with, but which may not even resemble the AROM rationale and activity I am referring to.

Pick up just about any book on stretching and what you will probably find is a list of all the muscles, their origins and insertions, and how to create a lengthening tension in each individual muscle.  Creating a list of every muscle, and how to stretch it, is a very linear, structural paradigm.  This type of approach also seems to imply that all muscles function in a similar manner, responding in a similar way to stress, and requiring a similar approach to their healthy maintenance.  This type of ‘reductionist’ approach lacks an understanding of the relationship between structure and function…  as if muscles exist and work individually, independent of other muscles or, the central nervous system.  Unfortunately, our neuromuscular system just doesn’t work this way.  The central nervous system (CNS) and the muscular system don’t exist and work independently of each other.  They work together.  This intertwining is the complexity we refer to as function.

In both my own athletic career, and in my manual therapy practice, I have found little value in the structural approach to stretching.  Honestly, I have found it to be both unsophisticated and ineffective in comparison to:

These methods, approaches, and techniques, listed above, are the basis for the AROM component of theCastleMethod.

The primary rationale for AROM is to maintain and/or restore muscle balance. This is known as ‘normalizing’ peripheral structures.   To prevent painful movement, or restore pain-free movement, normal muscle tone surrounding joints is a primary requirement.

Janda’s Functional Approach

Dr. Vladimir Janda, known worldwide as the ‘Father of Rehabilitation’, was responsible for the ‘Classification of Muscle Imbalance’ patterns.  Through his research, he discovered that groups of muscles respond to stress in very predictable ways.  While there are multiple forms of stress that can affect our musculature, the primary stressor is gravity.  As humans, understanding the negative effect gravity can have, on our bodies, over time…and what we can do to minimize this effect, is essential to restoring and/or maintaining pain-free movement patterns.

Janda classified muscles into two groups.  One group he named ‘TONIC’ and the other group he named ‘PHASIC’.  When under stress, the tonic muscles were found to become shorter (and tighter), while the phasic muscles responded by getting weaker (and eventually, over-stretched).  The response of the tonic group is related to the term ‘facilitation’, and that of the phasic group to ‘inhibition’.

Muscles often work in pairs, called ‘antagonistic pairs’.  Antagonistic pairs of muscles create movement when one contracts and the other relaxes.  An example of an antagonistic pair is the biceps and triceps; the triceps relaxes while the biceps contracts to lift the arm.  Another example of an antagonistic pair working together is: the quadriceps and hamstrings in the leg.

Sherrington’s Law, also called Sherrington’s law of reciprocal inhibition, explains how a muscle will relax when its opposite muscle (e.g., biceps/triceps) is activated.  Sherrington’s Law (Sherrington, 1907) states, “A hypertonic antagonist muscle may be reflexively inhibiting their agonist.  Restoring normal muscle tone and/or length must first be addressed before attempting to strengthen a weakened or inhibited muscle.”  Muscles that have been reflexively inhibited (weakened) due to tight antagonists, often recover spontaneously after addressing the tightness.

The Castle Method utilizes Janda’s classification of muscle imbalance as the first step in ‘normalizing the periphery’.  In assessing functional lesions that are causing pain, we utilize a proven starting point regarding which muscles have most likely become short and tight, and which muscles will have responded by becoming weak and possibly overstretched.

Excerpted from:  (Page, Frank, Lardner.  Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalance, The Janda Approach.  2010, Human Kinetics, Champagne IL.

*What is important to understand about AROM is that both short/tight and overstretched/weak muscles will elicit a similar, ‘tight’ sensation.  If you are basing a stretching routine on which muscles feel tight, you run the risk of stretching muscle groups that are already inhibited and weak.  Stretching these muscles may only increase the severity of the imbalance that may be causing the pain.  So, you can see why basing a stretching routine on which muscles feel tight might be the wrong approach.

The rationale for the AROM routine utilized in theCastleMethod has been developed in part from Janda’s Classification of Muscle Imbalance, known as the Upper and Lower Crossed Syndromes, and focuses primarily on the muscles and muscle groups that are known to always respond to stress by getting shorter and tighter.  There is no guesswork, or shotgun approach, to this process.

 Janda’s Classification:

Layer Syndrome (Stratification Syndrome)

Upper Crossed Syndrome (Proximal or Shoulder Crossed Syndrome)

  • Short/Tight
    • Upper Trapezius
    • Levator Scapula
    • Pectoralis Minor
    • Shoulder Internal Rotators
      • Anterior Deltoid
      • Latissimus Dorsi
      • Teres Major
      • Pec Major
    • Sternocleidomastoid (SCM)
    • Suboccipitals
  • Weak/Overstretched
    • Cervical Flexors
    • Rhomboids
    • Lower/Middle Trapezius (Lower stabilizers of the scapula)
    • Serratus Anterior
    • Shoulder External Rotators

Lower Crossed Syndrome (Distal or Pelvic Crossed Syndrome)

  • Short/Tight
    • Thoracolumbar Extensors
    • Iliacus
    • Psoas
    • Rectus Femoris
    • Hamstrings
    • Gastroc/Soleus
    • Thigh Adductors
    • Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL)
    • Piriformis
  • Weak/Overstretched
    • Deep Abdominals
    • Gluteus Medius
    • Gluteus Maximus
    • Lumbosacral Erector Spinae

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