Manual examination of accessory movements–seeking R1

Nicola Petty, C. Maher, J. Latimer, M. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Movement diagrams are used by physiotherapists to depict the behaviour of resistance through the available range of accessory and physiological joint movement. It is generally accepted that for an asymptomatic joint, the resistance first felt by the therapist (R1) occurs towards the end of range. R1 is considered to be at the transition point between the toe and linear region of a load displacement curve. The aim of this study was to more accurately define R1 from force displacement curves of accessory movement to the spine and peripheral joints using a validated instrument, the Spinal Assessment Machine (SAM). Thirty archived force displacement curves obtained using the SAM, which applied a posteroanterior force of 100N at a frequency of 0.5 Hz to L3 spinous process, were examined. In addition force displacement curves were similarly obtained from the tibiofemoral joint, glenohumeral joint and radiocarpal joint of one asymptomatic individual. In all cases resistance to a PA movement commenced at the beginning of range, the curve ascending as soon as the force was applied. While in most cases there was a low stiffness ‘toe’ region there was no unambiguous point where it could be said that the toe region ended. It is concluded that for spinal and peripheral accessory movements both the onset of resistance and the toe occurs at the beginning of range. Therapists should therefore depict R1 at the beginning of range not toward the end of range as is current practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-43
Number of pages5
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2002


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