Functional Range Conditioning

Since embarking on a career as a personal trainer my curiosity into movement & mobility has gone from strength to strength. My interest & appreciation can be traced a few years back, when I unfortunately spent more time on the physiotherapy bed than on the rugby pitch! Correct rehabilitation & corrective exercise procedures always played an unequivocal role in my return to play, but recently have become even more pivotal in today’s thought process. 

Why? We were all born to move & it’s becoming ever more apparent how little we all do. Wanting to learn more on the subject, I jumped at the chance to expand my knowledge - bizarrely taking me on a fleeting visit to Ottawa, Ontario, to study FRC (Functional Range Conditioning) for the weekend! 

FRC, Devised by Dr. Andreo Spina, is a systematic approach to mobility development, joint strength & body control which applies scientific methods to the acquisition & maintenance of; #1 Functional Mobility, #2 Articular Resilience, #3 Articular Health & longevity. 

Having studied a fair bit before the course, I felt like I had a good grasp and understanding of the concepts, however having Dre (Dr Andreo Spina) talk though the methodology was a complete game changer. The way the course was structured and information laid out over the weekend, however was top drawer. A perfect mix of learning & methodology as well as practical applications which, if done correctly under tension & control, were extremely physically demanding! 

At the time of writing this, sat in the airport with 5 hours to kill, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little overwhelmed by the multitude of information that needed digesting! Since then, and now with access to a whole library of online material & videos, I'm feeling much more equipped & confident with the thought process. 

So what did I learn? As espoused by Dre, the weekend was never about learning a load of cool exercises to post on Instagram! Rather learning a thought process, backed by scientific research, which can be implemented into ones own thinking & programming. 

To gain more of an understanding of FRC there are several concepts to explain - which i'll discuss briefly. 

The Law of Irradiation

FRC focuses on developing tension throughout the whole body whilst considering every muscle in your immediate - Irradiation can therefore be further understood as "a working muscle working hard which recruits the neighbouring muscles which, if already part of the action, amplifies their strength". Irradiation exists on a continuum where you can irradiate throughout your entire body at 20/30/40/50% and so on and so forth -  it is not an all or nothing principle. Tension is integral as it isolates a specific joint, prevents any compensations and allows for increased awareness of how ones body moves into space. 

CARs

CARs or controlled articular rotations are active rotational movements at the outer limits of articular control. They're a great self assessment tool whilst familiarising the nervous system with a specific range of motion and increasing neurological control of a 'sticky zone'. The video below, which paints a bit of a picture, was posted shortly before the course. Since learning how to irradiate however I now understand how more tension and control is required. 

 

 

 

 

 

PAILS/RAILS

Progressive / regressive angular isometric loading. Using isometric (static) loading in increasingly larger / smaller articular angles to simultaneously expand & strengthen increasing Ranges of motion. The key here is isometrics. If you're able to isometrically contract and irradiate through the target joint you can override/bypass the stretch reflex, efficiently activate the motor units in that area and can begin to build strength & progressive tissue adaptations in both short and long ranges.

 

I've only just scratched the surface here with a few concepts & explanations, there really is so much to talk about however I'd be here all day...! The big take away for the average consumer & gym go-er is valuing mobility & active end range work over flexibility. If you simply put passive load on the body through stretching techniques don't expect active results! I.e when you stretch you develop a useless range for which you have no control over. You can stretch yourself into an abyss but you'll never own that range and you certainly won't be strong in that range. Therefore when you find yourself in a range such as a deep squat yet done no prior to strengthening to the tissues or active end range you can be very, very susceptible to injury. Hence why FRC is a great injury prevention technique as well as a rehabilitation strategy. 

I hope you've enjoyed a small insight into something I'm extremely passionate about. Heading over to Canada for the weekend was an unbelievable experience & thoroughly worth it. Please shout if you'd like any more clarity on the points I've raised. TB