Functional Range Conditioning (FRC), created by @drandreospina, is essential to incorporate into your practice. FRC utilizes scientific research to improve mobility. Mobility, in an FRC sense, is defined as STRENGTH + CONTROL in order to expand upon usable ranges of motion, articular resilience (i.e. load bearing capacity), and overall joint health. Prioritizing FRC principles in your training and prehab program can be a huge game changer!
FRC Principle: Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)
In these videos brought to you by @dr.njbuonforte, he focuses on the FRC principle: controlled articular rotations. 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 provides the CNS with afferent feedback carrying signals that pertain to what is going on with the joint. More stimulus to the mechanoreceptors means more AFFERENT feedback to the CNS, which causes more EFFERENT output back to the musculoskeletal system, inducing more CONTROL.
In these videos I am performing CARs focused at my neck, shoulder, and hip. I am ACTIVELY moving through my range and utilizing USABLE 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.
FRC Principle: PAILs & RAILs
These videos brought to you by @dr.njbuonforte emphasize FRC principles: progressive (PAIL) and regressive angular isometric loading (RAIL). 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 USABLE range of motion. 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!
FRC Principle: Passive End Range Holds, Lift Offs, and Hovers
In these videos brought to you by @dr.njbuonforte he focuses on the FRC principles: passive end range holds, passive end range lift offs, and hovers. These techniques help to improve muscular strength, joint resiliency, and muscular and neurological control. The concept of 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!
This article was brought to you by @dr.njbuonforte
FRC created by @drandreospina
Click here to learn more about Functional Range Conditioning
About the Author: 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. He is seen here introducing a series on Functional Range Conditioning, which he learned from @drandreospina