Knee Range of Motion Chart

Utilize a knee range of motion chart to assess your patient's knee joint range and capabilities. Click here for a free template copy!

By Emma Hainsworth on Jul 15, 2024.


Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is Range of motion (ROM)?

Range of motion (ROM) is a crucial aspect of assessing and understanding the capabilities of the human musculoskeletal system. This term encompasses the extent to which a specific joint or body part can be moved around a joint or a fixed point, providing valuable insights into the overall functional capacity of the musculoskeletal structure. The assessment of ROM plays a pivotal role in various medical and rehabilitative contexts, aiding in the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of musculoskeletal conditions.

ROM is categorized into three primary types, each offering distinct insights into the mobility of a joint:

Passive ROM (PROM)

This refers to the range of motion achieved when an external force, such as a therapist or a mechanical device, exclusively induces the movement of a joint. Typically, PROM represents the maximum range joint motion, providing a baseline for assessing the potential limitations or restrictions in joint mobility.

Active-assisted ROM (AAROM)

In cases where a joint requires partial assistance for movement, an active-assisted range of motion comes into play. This assistance is often necessary when a patient experiences weakness, pain, or alterations in muscle tone. AAROM allows for a more controlled and supported movement, contributing to the rehabilitation process.

Active ROM (AROM)

Active range of motion involves the movement of a joint achieved through the contraction and relaxation of opposing muscles. For instance, the bending of the elbow or elbow flexion requires the contraction of the biceps while the triceps muscle relaxes. AROM is particularly significant as it reflects the voluntary and functional movement potential of an individual without external assistance.

ROM assessments are integral components of physical therapy evaluations and treatments. These knee examinations and evaluations help healthcare professionals gain a comprehensive understanding of a patient's musculoskeletal health, identify areas of concern, and tailor rehabilitation programs accordingly. The information obtained through ROM assessments aids in setting realistic therapeutic goals and tracking progress throughout the rehabilitation process.

Do note that normal ROM values vary depending on the specific body part and individual characteristics. Individual variations in joint mobility are considered when interpreting ROM assessments, emphasizing the importance of personalized and patient-centered care.

What are the normal knee ranges of motion?

Understanding the normal range of motion for the knee is essential in gauging the functional capabilities of this crucial joint, which plays a pivotal role in one's daily activities.

The knee joint is a complex structure, and its optimal mobility is integral to performing various movements, from walking to sitting comfortably. The normal range of motion for the knee falls within the range of 0-135 degrees, and comprehending these values is key to appreciating the impact on one's daily activities.

Walking (approximately 60° flexion)

The act of walking necessitates a specific degree of knee flexion. In a typical gait cycle, one leg requires about 60 degrees of flexion to facilitate smooth and efficient movement. This knee flexion range allows for alternating (full) knee extension and bending, contributing to the dynamic nature of walking.

Sitting comfortably (at least 90°)

For individuals to sit down comfortably, the knee joint needs to flex to at least 90 degrees. This degree of flexion ensures a comfortable and stable seated position, whether in a chair, on a sofa, or during various daily activities that involve sitting.

Sitting cross-legged (approximately 120°)

Engaging in activities like sitting cross-legged demands a greater degree of knee flexion, typically around 120 degrees. This range allows for the flexibility required to adopt this specific seated posture, commonly seen in various cultural and recreational settings.

Maximum knee flexion (up to approximately 145°)

While the typical ROM for the knee is considered to be up to 135 degrees, many individuals can achieve even greater flexion, reaching up to approximately 145 degrees. This extended range provides a margin of flexibility that accommodates a variety of movements and positions beyond what is necessary for routine activities.

It is important to note that these are generally accepted values, and individual variations in knee ROM are common. Factors such as age, fitness level, and previous injuries can influence the range of motion in the knee joint. If individuals experience limitations or discomfort in their knee ROM, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, such as a healthcare provider or a physical therapist, is advisable.

What causes a limited range of motion?

Limited range of motion in the knee can significantly hinder daily activities, affecting the quality of life for individuals facing this challenge. Various conditions contribute to restricted knee mobility (e.g., knee injury, excess body weight, muscle tightness), each with distinct characteristics and implications. Understanding the underlying causes is crucial for effective diagnosis and the development of targeted interventions.

Here are some common factors associated with limited knee ROM:


This degenerative joint disease is a prominent contributor to limited knee range of motion. Osteoarthritis results in joint space narrowing, the formation of osteophytes (bone spurs), and erosion of cartilage. These changes lead to pain, stiffness, and diminished mobility, impacting the overall functionality of individual joints.

Meniscal tears

Injuries to the menisci, particularly in the medial or lateral knee menisci, can result in a limited range of knee motion. Such tears may occur due to trauma or degenerative changes. Meniscal tears contribute to pain, swelling, and instability, affecting the knee's ability to move freely.

Autoimmune conditions

Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, both autoimmune conditions, are associated with limited knee range of motion. These conditions involve cartilage breakdown and joint inflammation, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Managing the underlying autoimmune response is essential in addressing the associated limitations in knee ROM.

Patellofemoral disorders

A spectrum of conditions falls under the umbrella of patellofemoral disorders, causing limited knee range of motion. Examples include patellofemoral pain syndrome, patellar tendinitis, and patellar instability. These disorders often result in pain, instability, and restrictions in joint movement.

Traumatic injuries

Injuries such as ligamentous sprains, meniscal tears, or fractures can lead to limited knee range of motion. Traumatic events can cause pain, swelling, and instability, all of which contribute to reduced joint movement. Effective management of these injuries is crucial for restoring optimal knee function.

Understanding the diverse causes of limited knee ROM underscores the importance of seeking professional guidance when experiencing such limitations.

How to increase the range of motion?

Improving the range of motion (ROM) in the knee is a goal for many individuals seeking to enhance mobility and functionality. Various methods can contribute to increased knee ROM, offering a spectrum of approaches that cater to different needs and preferences.

Here's a list of several effective strategies to consider:

Physical therapy

Engaging with a qualified physical therapist is a cornerstone in the journey to improve knee ROM. A physical therapist can assess your current range of motion, identify specific limitations, and tailor a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. Through targeted exercises and stretches, a physical therapist guides individuals in gradually increasing knee mobility while ensuring proper form and safety.

Regular knee exercises

Incorporating regular exercises into your routine is a fundamental strategy to enhance knee flexibility and strength. Specific exercises, such as heel slides, quad stretches, knee bends, and quad activators, can be particularly effective in targeting the muscles and structures around the knee joint. Consistent practice of these exercises contributes to improved overall knee function and increased ROM. These can even alleviate any muscle weakness that the likes of hamstring muscles and leg muscles have suffered as a result of negatively impacted range of motion.


A variety of stretches can be incorporated into a routine to target the improvement of knee ROM specifically. Seated scoots and knee-to-chest stretches using a chair, as well as wall stretches and heel slides performed while lying on the floor, can effectively contribute to increased flexibility. Regular stretching helps lengthen the muscles and connective tissues around the knee, promoting a wider range of motion.

Joint mobilization

Incorporating joint mobilization, a form of manual therapy, into a rehabilitation plan can be beneficial in increasing knee ROM. This technique involves skilled hands-on movements by a healthcare professional to address joint stiffness and restrictions. Joint mobilization aims to improve the mobility of the knee joint, contributing to an increased range of motion over time.

Knee surgery

In certain cases where conservative methods prove insufficient, surgical intervention may be considered to increase knee ROM. Surgical procedures, such as arthroscopic surgery or joint manipulation under anesthesia, may be recommended by healthcare providers to address specific structural issues hindering optimal knee mobility. Surgery is typically considered when other non-invasive methods have been explored without achieving the desired results.

How to use the knee range of motion chart?
How to use the knee range of motion chart?

Commonly asked questions

How to use the knee range of motion chart?

You can use the knee range of motion chart template as a document where you can record results from your assessments or examinations.

Who can benefit from using the knee range of motion chart?

Orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are the ones who will benefit the most from using the knee range of motion chart template.

Why is knee range of motion important?

Having a normal range of motion in the knee is important to perform daily activities such as walking or climbing stairs without difficulty or limitations.

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