A common misconception amongst gym bunnies and even some fitness professionals is that flexibility and mobilty are one and the same. Indeed the two terms are used interchangeably but they are actually two different things. Flexibility pertains to the amount of passive range of motion (ROM) of joints, with no neuromuscular (strength) input. Think of assisted stretching. It is essentially just the lengthening of muscles and doesn’t neccessarily carryover to functional movement. As an example client may exhibit a great active leg raise (a universal measure of hamstring length) but struggle to ‘access’ this length when it comes to peforming and exercise such as a Romanian Deadlift. Mobility on the otherhand is the amount of active ROM that can be used across a particular joint. The ACTIVE part of this means that is acheived by contracting muscles, thus there is more of a neuromuscular element. What this means is flexibility plus a certain amount of strength equals mobility!
Enter Controlled Articular Rotations or CAR’s- a way of giving passive flexibilty more control, in turn making it more functional. This is achieved by taking joints through there outermost ROM in a circular movement and getting stronger at these ranges. Often we are weakest at these extremes and more susceptible to injury. CAR’s can help to joints to become more resilient and as a minimum lessen the risk of injury. In my previous post I spoke about the Swimmer Hover drill as an assessment tool. This is essentially CAR’s for the shoulder joint!
It important when performing CAR’s to be as stiff in the adjacent and surrounding body areas as possible to avoid ‘cheating’ the movement!
Check out this link to a full body CAR’s routine that you can include as part of your daily routine:
My next post be on how to make these improvements in Active ROM stick with the use of lift off exercises and Progressive Angular Isometric Loading and Regressive Angular Isometric Loading (PAIL’s and RAIL’s) protocols.