Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)

The Functional Range Conditioning system is getting more and more popular by the day.  There are countless Instagram feeds filled with people doing “joint circles.”  What we have found, however, is that there is still a wide amount of variability between certain posts – mainly by those who are not certified in the system itself.  Sometimes the CARs look nice and controlled, and at other times, well not so much.  So what is going on?

If you have never worked with a FRCms, taken an FRC seminar, or attended a Kinstretch class, you probably don’t have a full grasp of why or how to do CARs.  That is ok, you are still a good person, and to make you feel better (and keep you safe) – we here at Perfect Stride want to provide you a lesson on the many uses of CARs and how they can be used no matter what level you currently find yourself in. 

Three Reasons We Use CARs

  1. To maintain your current range of motioin
  2. To maintain joint health
  3. To assess your body on a continuous basis.  Allowing you to figure out what areas will need your most attention when it comes to your mobility training. 


The performance of CARs during the rehabilitative stages are done in small pain-free ranges of motion at a very low tension. They should also be done at a higher frequency in order to keep constant communication with your healing tissues.


Range of Motion = Small, pain-free

Cadence = Medium tempo

Tension = Up to 10%, pain-free


The secret to healthy joints and longevity is the practice of a daily ritual. Just as your teeth would develop cavities from ignorance, so do joints (in a sense).  How many reps should you perform?  However many you have time for (we usually recommend 2-3).  The numbers are not what is important here but rather the consistency of the ritual.


Range of Motion = Large

Cadence = Medium tempo, 3-5 sec per rep

Tension = 10-30%


For most of us here at PSPT we use CARs at the beginning of every training session as a warmup.  In this instance your CARs should remain at or below 50% tension. A great idea here would be to “ramp” up throughout your circles.  For example, performing the first rep(s) at 10%, the second rep(s) at 20%, the next rep(s) at the 30% and then repeat the process the other direction.


Range of Motion = Large

Cadence = Medium tempo, 10-12 sec per rep

Tension = 20-50%


The demand of a high intensity, isometrically self-induced effort of rotation at the outer limits of motion is extremely demanding and taxing on your body and central nervous system.  So we do not recommend going “all out” on your shoulder CARs and then trying to set a 1 Rep Max on your bench press.  They can however be used as an adjunct to your training or perhaps when you find yourself in a small hotel room but still want to get a movement/workout in. 


Range of Motion = Very outer limits of motion

Cadence = Slow to very slow tempo, 20+ sec per rep

MVC – 70%-max

Check out our video below that sums everything up for you.  Questions or comments?  Reach out to us!  


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