CARS Controlled Articular Rotations

CARS are a method of strengthening the muscles around a joint and improving overall joint health.  We explain the three levels of CARS, why they should be done, and how to use them to provide a self-assessment.

What are CARS?

CARS (or controlled articulated rotation) are the movement of a joint through its full range of motion without the use of muscles not required for that motion.  They were designed by the Functional Anatomy Seminars and are a critical part of FRC, Kinstretch, and Beyond Stretch.

Why Do We Do CARS:

  1. CARS provides a method of decoupling firing patterns.  We want to be able to control all of our muscles individually.  E.g. use our tibialis anterior to lift our foot, not use our toes extensors to lift our foot.  Our bodies are designed to chain muscle firing sequences together for movement, but the inability to individually control muscles often leads to injury.
  2. CARS provides a method to see uneven range of motion left to right.  CARS also provides a high-level inspection of the range of motion.  It helps let a personal trainer learn which areas to target.
  3. CARS helps maintain range of motion.  Range of motion is certainly a “use it or lose it” skill.  While CARS alone aren’t sufficient to increase range of motion, doing CARS helps strengthen the range of motion you have and prevent its decay.
  4. CARS helps set intention for the class.  Like the CrossFit Whiteboard Presentation or Yoga’s pranaymas, CARS helps bring the class together and get our bodies ready for the workout ahead.

The 3 Levels of CARS:

Level 1 CARS: No Props, No Load, but a conscious effort to prevent compensation of other muscles not required for the joint movement.  Body Irradiation Force is about 30%.

Level 2 CARS: Props, but no Load.  We use props and/or load to assist the brain in decoupling the firing of muscles.  Props can be used to let you know if you are incorrectly doing a CAR.  For example, if you are doing the Hip CAR in quadruped, you can keep a massage ball on your back.  If it rolls off, you know that you are rotating your pelvis.  Props in Level 2 CARS are generally designed to provide you with feedback about a movement fault.

Level 3 CARS: are about driving maximal intensity into the CAR.  You can squeeze massage balls in your wrist CARS or use an ankle weight in your hips cars.  Level 3 CARS are highlighted by the ability to irradiate 100% intensity without recruitment of compensating muscles.

Morning Routine:

Functional Range and Conditioning (FRC) Built a Sequence of CARS they recommend doing daily.  It’s called the morning routine.  The morning routine includes almost all of the joins except for the fingers and lumbar spine.

  1. Neck.
  2. T-Spine
  3. Scapula or shoulder blades.
  4. Shoulders (Traps)
  5. Elbows
  6. Wrists
  7. Hips
  8. Knees
  9. Patella (kneecap).
  10. Ankle.
  11. Spine (segmentation).
  12. Toes.

CARS Videos:

How do CARS Properly from the Founder himself: Andreo Spina


Dr. Spina Explains the Differences between CARS and Joint Circles

The FRC CARS Morning Routine

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