Controlled Articular Rotations or CAR’s is a practice of independently taking each joint through its entire range of motion while trying to remain still throughout the rest of the body. This includes the obvious flexion and extension of each joint, but more importantly the rotation of the joint as well.
At its basic level CAR’s is something I use every morning and something I prescribe to all my personal training clients. By taking your joints through a full range of motion everyday you can maintain your current mobility in each joint. By doing a CAR’s routine upon awakening you are now moving your body after it just laid still for (hopefully) 8 hours. Sticking to this routine will reduce morning stiffness and can help you wake up feeling ready to take on the day.
CAR’s is also used as a personal training assessment tool. Instead of getting a client to do a squat with their hands overhead (as assessment destined for failure) and guess where they need help, CAR’s allows for a direct assessment of each individual joint and its capacity for work. It also provides each personal training client with a self assessment tool. If blockages, pinching, or lack of range is felt then they know where they need to put in work.
Along with the sled, I also use CAR’s as a warm up with my personal training clients as it prepares the entire body for more movement. Eventually one can progress to make the CAR’s more challenging by not allowing compensations to occur (movement in the rest of the body). You can also load the CAR and turn it into a very challenging exercise that will help strengthen a joint’s entire range of movement.
Lastly, after the other work has been put in to improve strength and mobility of my personal training clients, CAR’s acts as a way to upload the new info to the system. For example, you worked on internal hip rotation, created slightly more space in the capsule, and now you are reinforcing that space by telling your brain you want to continue to use it.
A 5 minute routine that anyone can add to their morning is head-to-toe CAR’s. Start with your neck, then move on to spine, shoulders, scapula, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, kneecaps (patella), ankles, and finish with toes. Ensure that for every joint except the spine you start with rotation, going through full internal and external rotation, along with flexion and extension. For the spine it is flexion (and extension) first, rotation second. To put it in the simplest terms, perform 1-2 circles each direction, with each joint, covering the greatest area possible, while keeping all but the intended joint still (There are a variety of tutorials online to provide an exact example of what a CAR looks like).
5 minutes max to maintain current mobility, reduce stiffness, and regain individual function over your toes sounds like a good investment to me.
If you have any questions, would like more direction about CAR’s, or are interested in personal training feel free to reach out here Contact Tommy Kudoba Fitness – Personal Trainers Kitchener, ON