What are CARs (Controlled Articular Rotations)?

If you follow the FRC (Functional Range Conditioning) world at all, you’ve seen a lot of posts about CARs. CARs stands for Controlled Articular Rotations, in case you didn’t read the title. They’re big circles at each joint. You’ve been doing circles since you were a little kid. So why do you need someone to teach you how now?


You don’t. You can watch any of the numerous videos I and my colleagues have put out with CARs routines in them and learn plenty on your own. You can experiment and figure out what works best for your body at any given time without any outside input. CARs are movements designed to help your joints stay healthy. As a living organism, your body is nourished by movement. It gets stronger and more pliable with movement. And it gets better at any movements you practice a lot.


CARs are a skill. As with any skill you tend to get better when you work with a teacher. It’s easy to discount the work as a warmup to get to the “real” mobility work or workout in front of you. CARs deserve more respect than that. You’re learning individual skills for each individual joint to maximize your abilities to do anything you want.


Things that Fire together, wire together. This is a well-known phrase in neuroscience. When some several parts of you move together almost any time the other parts move, your brain will eventually automatically make those things move together always. Try balling up one finger at a time and see how much the others try to join the party. You don’t often ask for fingers to move on their own, especially the outer 3.


When you can control more individual parts of yourself, you can create more intricate adaptations to your environment. While movement makes things stronger, your body was also designed with a perfect amount of parts to deal with life assuming they all share the loads of life. When one piece of you does an extraordinary amount of the work, it will eventually tire out. Picture a basketball team with one player on the bench. The four on the court might do well for a little while, but they are going to get tired having to pick up the slack. Now imagine one player doing most of the work on a team of inexperienced other players. You can bet that one guy would appreciate the others being trained up to help out equally as fast as possible.


CARs breaks your body down into parts to assess how each “player” is doing on their own, their strengths and weaknesses, and what might be causing them. You use your body every day, and CARs are a daily practice at using your body. Do more, get more out of them. Discover more, learn more, be more aware of what you are doing. I’m quite “good” at CARs and discover new ways to improve every single day. At minimum, CARs maintain what I already physically know. From there I can choose to level up with various intensities and stricter challenges.


CARs are tough on the ego precisely because they don’t seem like a new skill. We all think we’re doing just fine moving around. The incredible difficulty of overcoming the way we’ve wired our brains to use our body parts is frustrating. As soon as you view it as a new Movement challenge, you might be more fair to yourself. You can open your mind to getting good at one skill or one joint at a time.


You are adaptable. Skills are built through practice. You get better at everything you put your time into. You will get better forever. Isn’t that cool? There is no perfect. You’re adapting all of the time. You can always reach higher. That is a tremendous and wonderful thing about being alive. If you want to be better at using your body and if you want that body to be useful to you, you will forever practice using it. Dedicated time to becoming a more and more capable you is handsomely rewarded.


Limited range of motion is often synonymous with fear. Think of big, bold movements. You don’t associate them with shrinking violets, do you? Learning to embrace and control large ranges of motion can have lasting psychological benefits. Knowing exactly what your body is capable of can have long lasting psychological benefits. I would love for people to stop thinking of their body and minds as separate and enjoy themselves as whole, where everything affects everything. Embrace yourself and your abilities and learn how to be bigger, bolder, and more in control of yourself. Then you can do anything.


Picture CARS as the building blocks of every movement you’ll ever ask of yourself. You can never get too good at the basics.


I teach groups of people all about CARs at Elevate MMA Academy, 2945 S Miami Blvd, Suite 113 (near the Sheetz at the corner of Miami Blvd and Alexander) in Durham, North Carolina 27703. Classes are every Tuesday night at 6-7pm and Saturday mornings from 9-10am, and I see individual clients all during the week in between those. 🙂 For one-on-one scheduling or to register for a class, click here.


For more information on FRC and Kinstretch and their practitioners, please check out kinstretch.com, functionalanatomyseminars.com, google Dr. Andreo Spina’s work, or ask me questions! I look forward to hearing from you.

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