functional range conditioning the prehab guys

Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) became very popular in the fitness, rehab, and sports medicine world a couple of years ago and it is here to stay as it has many applicable uses. FRC focuses on improving mobility. Mobility, in an FRC sense, is defined as strength and control in order to expand upon usable ranges of motion, articular resilience (i.e. load-bearing capacity), and overall joint health. Adding FRC principles into your training and prehab routine can be a huge game-changer! This article will provide you with an intro to FRC principles provided with exercise examples that we have included in a variety of our prehab programs.


Understanding Functional Range Conditioning

We start with the FRC principle: controlled articular rotations. This is a great intro to FRC, the concept of CARs is that the joint capsule relays multidirectional and rotatory information to the central nervous system (CNS). For this reason, the rotatory component of CARs is imperative and should not be overlooked. The mechanoreceptors that innervate our joint capsules provide the CNS with afferent feedback carrying signals that pertain to what is going on within the joint. More stimulus to the mechanoreceptors means more afferent feedback to the CNS, which causes more efferent output back to the musculoskeletal system, ultimately inducing more control.

Intro To FRC: Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)

In these videos, I am performing CARs focused at my neck, shoulder, and hip. I am actively moving through my range and utilizing the available range of motion under muscular and neurological control instead of simply holding a static stretch without active control. Each time I perform CARs, I try to create a larger “circle” to improve control on the outer limits of my range, thus enhancing the adaptability of my tissues and aiding in joint health, integrity, and protection. Also, to increase the intensity of this exercise, I can increase the resistance through the air from 0% to 100%. This will help create more tension throughout the body to ultimately improve muscular and neurological control. This is a great intro to FRC and an excellent starting point!


Gain Exposure To FRC Exercises And More With Our Hip Mobility Overhaul!

hip mobility program the prehab guys

The Hip Mobility Overhaul [P]Rehab Program is the ultimate resource for those looking to improve their hip mobility. The natural design of the hip allows it to serve as the key to foundational movement. If we begin to lose access to that mobility we are missing out on significant movement potential and increase risk of injury at the hip along with areas above and below such as the low back, knee, and our feet. With this program you’ll regain access to your hip mobility and enjoy a life with limitless movement! Learn more HERE.


Intro To FRC: PAILs & RAILs

These videos emphasize FRC principles: progressive (PAIL) and regressive angular isometric loading (RAIL). Building off of the intro to FRC with CARs, these techniques help teach the central nervous system (CNS) how to control and function in newly acquired ranges. Utilizing isometric contraction teaches the nervous system to have active control over a particular range (i.e. shortened or lengthened positions). These techniques help expand the available range of motion at any given joint. In addition, PAILs and RAILs will help build strength and tissue adaptation in both the shortened and lengthened ranges of motion. A key component while performing PAILs and RAILs is to irradiate (create tension) throughout the body.

In order to perform PAILs and RAILs, statically hold a 90-90 hip position for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes, I irradiate throughout my entire body and perform a PAIL contraction with my right leg by driving the leg into the ground, ramping tension up to 100% effort by the end of the 10-second count. After the PAIL contraction I reverse into a RAIL contraction–again, ramping tension up to 100% effort within the 10-second count–whereby I actively bring myself further into a new range. After completing that cycle (Hold position: 2 minutes, then PAIL/RAIL contraction) I am in a newly acquired range and I repeat the sequence. These techniques are very taxing to the body and should be performed with 100% focus!


Lacking Overhead Shoulder Mobility? Find Out How To Assess And Improve It!


Intro To FRC: Passive End Range Holds, Lift Offs, and Hovers

These videos focus on the FRC principles: passive end range holds, passive range liftoffs, and hovers. These techniques help to improve muscular strength, joint resiliency, and muscular and neurological control. The concept of irradiating tension throughout my body remains in the techniques. The first clip is focused on improving my end-range hip flexion strength. I passively bring myself into a particular range of hip flexion and maintain that position actively for a given period of time. I then increase the degree of hip flexion and perform the same technique.

The second technique is passive end range lift offs out of a 90-90 hip position, which focuses on improving hip internal rotation, specifically on the left side in this clip. I irradiate tension throughout the entire body to lift off the ground and hold for a period of time to improve neural drive and strength in the given range. Lastly, is Hovers. Implementing tools such as yoga blocks or shoes to help you perform hovers is totally up to you. In this clip, I start in a 90-90 hip position with the focus being on my right leg. I actively lift my front side leg and bring it through a particular range of motion hovering over an object such as a towel. This enhances neural and muscular strength throughout the entire exercise. These techniques are neurologically taxing if done correctly and cramping is likely to occur. Slowly start implementing FRC principles into everyday practice and optimize your joint resilience, health, and longevity!


hip impingement and physical therapy treatment the prehab guys intro to frc


Lower Body FRC Exercises

You can be creative with the way you perform FRC exercises, which is one of the many excellent traits about them and why we have added them in our programs! Here we are showing how you can perform FRC exercises in different positions.

Hip CARs – Side Lying, In Flexion

Sample Hip Mobility [P]rehab Program Exercise Video

  • HOW: Begin by lying on your side with the leg you want to exercise on top and the lower leg bent on the ground. The knee can be straight out from the hip. The bottom arm can be supporting your head, and the top arm can be bent with your hand on your hip. Keep your hips facing forward parallel to the ground. While keeping the knee straight and parallel to the ground, raise the top leg up and slightly move it forwards in front of you. From here, rotate your foot back and forth to point down to the floor and then up to the sky.


  • FEEL: You should feel the hip muscles on the side and front working to rotate the leg and hold it up. 


  • COMPENSATION: Keep the knee straight, don’t bend it. Don’t let your leg drop down as you rotate your hip.


Prehab Membership The Prehab Guys into to frc

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Quadruped Hip CAR

Start in a quadruped position, then lift one leg up and perform max extension, external rotation, abduction and flexion, Reverse and repeat. See the video for tips. You will feel muscles all around your hip as well as throughout your entire body working with this exercise. Try to isolate motion to your hip joint as best as you can. 


Upper Body FRC Exercises

Below are some variations that you can perform for the upper body as well!

Shoulder CARs

  • HOW: Standing with your arms at your side, bring one arm up in front of you as high as you can, palm facing in.  Once you have your arm as high as you can, rotate your arm around to where your palm is facing out. As you rotate your arm out, rotate your arm and shoulder back until you can’t.  At that point, rotate your hand back to the starting position and reverse the motion.  


  • FEEL: You should feel the muscles in your shoulder working.


  • COMPENSATION: Keep your chest facing forward. Don’t twist back towards the moving arm. Slow and controlled motion, this is not about how fast you move your shoulder.



intro to frc decreasing risk of shoulder injury in overhead lifters the prehab guys


Elbow CARs

HOW: Start with your elbows straight and forearms rotated out with your palms facing up. Bend your elbows as far as you can, while holding this position now rotate your forearms in and palms down, then extend your elbows. Repeat


  • FEEL: You will feel your biceps, triceps, and forearm muscles working with this exercise. You may feel a stretch in your upper arm, elbow, and forearm region.


  • COMPENSATION: Do not rush the motion, focus on moving through your full ROM 


Closing Thoughts

Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) exercises are excellent variations that can be integrated into your exercise routine. Specifically, these exercises are going to help you improve your mobility. Find what works best for you in regards to these exercises and stay consistent! You will find that you make excellent improvements along the way with your overall mobility.


Dealing With Tightness In Your Hips?

hip mobility program the prehab guys intro to frc

The powerhouse of the movement system: the hip. With all of the force it can generate and without purposeful attention, this joint can start to feel pretty stiff. It’s a ball and socket joint by design meaning it was made to move in all planes of motion. If you want to optimize your movement system hip mobility is a great choice!


About the Author

Nick Buonforte PT, DPT, CSCS

Nick Buonforte

Nick is a physical therapist, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and owner of DRIVE Physical Therapy and Performance located in northern New Jersey. He has worked at the professional baseball level while completing an affiliation with the San Francisco Giants baseball club. He currently practices physical therapy in addition to sports performance training for athletes, with patients ranging from grade school to the professional level in New Jersey. Dr. Buonforte takes a holistic approach when looking at his athletes/clients in order to create and implement the most effective treatment strategy that is tailored to them and their goals/needs.


instagram: @dr.njbuonforte

Click here to learn more about Functional Range Conditioning




Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

About the author : [P]rehab


  1. Quinton Dailey January 12, 2017 at 12:12 am


    Just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoy your content, and as a new Physical Therapist it invigorates me to discover new approaches such as this one. I have a question for you though: are there, or have there been FRC courses in Texas? If not, I would very much like to get in touch with you, as I know of numerous colleagues of mine that would be interested in learning the FRC approach. I firmly believe there to be many Rehab facilities, here in Texas, that would love to take the FRC course, and glean what ever they can from it. Regardless I would love to discuss ideas with you, either via email or some form of social media. I look forward to your reply, and to any future discussions we might have. Ps: I know it says my email address won’t be published, but I’m going to include it here.

  2. Victor May 3, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    This article looked like it was going to be about increasing range of motion, controll and strength. Yet, i see no exercise here that can be properly loaded(you can add bands, but you would need bands in 4 different directions to load the whole movement), and it seems like it would have no advantage over common strength exercises like the overhead press, dips, rows and chin ups when it comes to loading, strength progress, controll or range of motion. As common compound movments,done with full range of motion, will acts as a stretch, and will provide increased range of motion.

    The joints rotate during normal movements, so why would you need to create exercises(CARs) that are nearly impossible to load, properly. And why would you think those exercises gives a superior result in terms of controll than those exercises i listed? Also, why do you think that isolating a movement provides better benefits than exercises that use all planes of motion?
    The last video that covers exercises for the FCR principle seems very inefficient. You would need A LOT of exercises to cover all the positions and all planes of movement.
    You say “The first clip is focused on improving my end range hip flexion STRENGTH” and that may be true for the first times you do that exercise, but after your body have adapted to the stimulus you will need to provide resisstance. Which in this case is very difficult to do in small jumps, and VERY time consuming if you want train end range of motion strength in various positions. And i dont see how isometrically contracting your whole body during these exercises, without any load will lead to good strength progression. A squat with weight on your upper back would provide a much better stimulus in terms of strength. When you squat with full range of motion you DO train end range of motion strength.

    So why should anyone consider these exercises when they are very time consuming, compared to normal strength exercises. They dont provide any better controll. They do not provide a better strength nor better afferent/efferent feedback/output than heavy strength exercises. I dont see how these exercises are superior in terms of increased motion than regulare exercises and stretching. And i dont see how normal compound exercises will provide less controll and balance.

    Sincerely, Victor

    • austin August 30, 2017 at 2:05 am

      Victor: Have you tried these? They are super hard and taxing and lead to fast increases in range of motion and decrease in pain.

      if you think stretching is the best thing for increasing functional range of motion, you are very far behind the times with regard to practical application of motor control retraining and CNS conditioning, which is what you want to be practicing if you want immediate gains in mobility and strength

  3. Emily January 21, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Generally, how often should one be incorporating FRC into their programming, and when? Pre-lifting, post-lifting, as a stand alone workout?

    • Michael Lau January 27, 2019 at 12:59 pm

      It all depends, you can do all of the above! FRC is very mentally tasking, I wouldn’t advise doing more than a minute or 2 prior to lifting. Personally, i do it as a standalone.

  4. Joseph Paul Jacobs, Jr. February 22, 2020 at 4:54 am

    Nick, you guys should know – and I don’t know how long you’ve been around – that people are still discovering you and we’re all better for it.

    Two thoughs I wondered if you’ve given attention to?

    1. Seniors and the elderly daily stretching routines

    2. Girls and women- focus on the stretching routines they need to be doing daily.


    • Michael Lau February 29, 2020 at 7:25 pm

      Thanks for the kind words! TBH, the “stretching routines” should be the same as it would be for any population – just because someone is a senior or elderly or a girl or a woman doesn’t mean they should stretch any different. Differences in programing come mainly from the goal fo the intervention (in this case the stretch), rather than the actual person. Hope that makes sense!

  5. Szymon April 16, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Hey Nick, thank you for the article, I was looking for a Kinstretch primer and you’ve answered a few questions I had. At the same time it’s still unclear to me:
    1. What is the exact difference between end range holds and lift offs? To my bystander perspective it looks like both are about holding a given area in an end range position for that particular movement.
    2. You said cramps may occur. Are they in any way dangerous? I always thought that this is a sign to go out of the movement as muscles may cramp so much that they will tear (or at least refuse to release afterwards)

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