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It's Time to Learn What the Hell is Functional Range Conditioning (FRC)

Brandon Howard
Mar 8, 2019

The FRC System was developed by movement specialist Dr. Andreo Spina. Functional Range Conditioning is a system of joint health, and mobility training based in scientific principles and research. The FRC System of training applies scientific methods to expanding active, usable range of motion.

One of the primary bits of information that you are first taught in regard to FRC is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility. Flexibility is the ability to passively achieve an extended range of motion, whereas Mobility is the ability to control ranges of motion. The definition of mobility is what FRC is all about. With FRC we are trying to expand our articular ranges of motion, while also teaching the central nervous system how to control these ranges of motion as well. FRC will also allow us to induce progressive adaptations for tissue preparation and safety.  

The FRC System uses a variety of exercises to aid the athlete in increasing their active mobility. The first movements we have used successfully at Texas Tech are PAIL's and RAIL's.

PAIL's stands for Passive Angular Isometric Loading, and RAIL's stands for Regressive Isometric Angular Loading. PAIL's uses isometric conditioning in progressively larger articular angles in order to simultaneously expand and strengthen increasing ranges of motion, where RAILS uses isometric conditioning in progressively smaller articular angles to simultaneously expand and strengthen decreasing ranges of motion. The primary idea behind the PAILS/RAILS exercises is to utilize incremental strategies in order to induce adaptive mechanisms in various tissues. As you continue to progress with your PAILS/RAILS the body will respond to progressing movement when you add more load, thus allow you to gain more function over time, this is similar to weight training.

The next exercise that I will discuss as a part of the FRC system that we use are a series of movements we call CARS, or Controlled Articular Rotations. CARS utilizes active, rotational movement drills at the outer limits of motion in order to teach articular adaptation, outer range control and kinesthetic awareness. CARS utilizes multi-directional movements thus maximizing articular capsule activation. CARS teaches the CNS how to control these new ranges of motion that were gained during Pails/Rails. When utilizing CARS all rotations are conducted actively and in a controlled manner with constant attempts on “expanding the circle." We must ensure neurological control to safely prepare an articular complex for more advanced movement. In order to improve neurological control, we want to provide the CNS with as much feedback as possible.

The Utilization of both PAILS/RAILS and Cars has been a game changer for our program. We have seen the benefits with all of our student-athletes. If any coaches reading this are interested in learning more about the FRC program please visit their website at: www.functionalanatomyseminars.com

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