You’ve perhaps heard the phrase “utilize it or forfeit it” — which implies that if you want to sustain a habit, function, or skill, you have to practice it regularly. Well, that maxim is particularly pertinent when it comes to your flexibility. If you’re troubled by a twinge in your shoulder or you’re unable to descend into a profound squat without toppling over, it’s time to prioritize
mobility (your capability to move a joint through a range of motion with control). Introducing: regulated articular rotations, aka CARs, which enhance the dynamic movement of joints.
And while cardiovascular health and muscular development may receive ample attention in discussions about fitness, mobility is equally crucial in your movement regimen. Joint health relies on the ability to move freely and with ease (especially as you age), and possessing more freedom of movement can alleviate those aches and complaints that might impede your daily life. CARs target your prominent joints (such as the hips, thoracic spine, shoulders, and wrists) and methodically cultivate your range of motion (ROM) within each joint socket. Translation: Your joints move smoothly and without pain, enhancing your practical fitness and capacity to carry out everyday tasks.
Regardless of where you are on your fitness journey, there’s never an unfavorable time to start incorporating controlled articular rotations into your mobility workout routine. Even if a limited range of motion or joint pain isn’t presently affecting your workouts, progressively including CARs in your workout routine can help forestall immobility issues from arising later.
What Are Regulated Articular Rotations?
To gain a better understanding of the influence of regulated articular rotations, let’s dissect it word-by-word.
Regulated pertains to small, incremental movements, which are indispensable for reaping the full advantages of CARs. That’s because these intentional movements inundate the joints with synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant between the cartilage (the resilient, pliable connective tissue that safeguards your joints) to facilitate movement. The outcome: You’re capable of moving more freely and with an enhanced ROM (in other words, you’ll be able to access your complete movement potential).
Articular simply means the location where two bones meet — also known as the joint.
Rotations are the specific type of joint movement that is being executed. During CARs, the limb rotates by moving in a circular direction around a fixed joint towards or away from the midline of the body.
So when you combine each element, regulated articular rotations target your outer range of motion, also known as the farthest point to which a muscle can extend without assistance.
One widely held misconception is that
mobility is the same as flexibility.
Flexibility refers to how joints move passively through a range of motion, while
mobility exercises are active movements that enhance your unrestricted range of motion around a joint.
For an evenly distributed exercise regimen, be sure to allocate time to both disciplines.
Advantages of Regulated Articular Revolutions
Imagine controlled articular rotations as topping off the engine oil in a car before you take it out for a drive; by doing so, you ensure your vehicle operates smoothly and without any breakdowns or mechanical failures. Controlled articular rotations operate under a comparable principle by aiding your body in functioning at its pinnacle so that you can perform with ease and utmost efficiency. That’s because “CARs take a joint through its complete range of motion to enhance control, strength, and mobility,” elucidates Megan Roup, a fitness instructor, former professional dancer, and the creator of The Sculpt Society. More precisely, controlled articular rotations can help you enhance mobility, support joint well-being, and sustain your range of motion as you age.
If you incorporate CARs as a consistent component of your routine, you can anticipate an improvement in your mobility and, hopefully, the prevention of injuries simultaneously. A 2021 study discovered that substandard movement patterns and mobility increased participants’ vulnerability to injury by seven times. Moreover, the quality of movement patterns enabled researchers to forecast injury occurrence with 73 percent accuracy. This is because mobility aids in priming the body before a workout or activity by lubricating the joints to reduce friction. Consequently, your body is better prepared to handle the required movements.
Moreover, controlled articular rotations frequently target one side of your body at a time, rectifying imbalances in movement patterns and forestalling the development of compensation patterns. “Anywhere there’s an imbalance, the rest of your muscles will compensate,” asserts Evie Vlahakis, P.T., a physical therapist in New York City, as previously stated in Shape magazine. “Then, when you overload the weaker group of muscles or a specific muscle, that’s going to pose the highest risk for a muscle strain.” If you lack the essential mobility to function in your daily life, your body will compensate in other areas, potentially leading to injuries.
The same principle applies to unilateral joint mobility. For instance, you may perform a standing shoulder CAR on your right side while concentrating on maintaining stability and alignment on the left side. Isolating the right shoulder joint allows you to prevent compensation from the left side and grants you better control over movements on the right side.
Preserve Joint Well-being
“Joint well-being impacts our overall health, so maintaining joint mobility helps keep you active and decreases the risk of injury or pain as you age,” affirms Roup.
And collective well-being is influenced by numerous ailments, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and even hand pain. Even if you’re not encountering one of these illnesses, robust joints are vital for moving and swaying, whether you’re jogging, leaping, dancing, or simply carrying out your day-to-day existence.
Reminder: Your joints enable specific types of movement due to their connections within the body and the surrounding tissues such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Regular movement and mobility exercises are beneficial for maintaining joint health by increasing your range of motion and improving form. If you experience acute or chronic pain anywhere in your body, it is advisable to consult with your doctor for guidance.
Maintain Range of Motion as You Age
“Most individuals naturally experience a reduction in range of motion as they age,” explains Roup. “This occurs due to various factors such as inactivity, injury, chronic pain, or muscle loss.” Additionally, you may encounter stiffness and a decline in muscle agility and strength, attributed to the thinning of cartilage and a decrease in synovial fluid.
Nevertheless, engaging in mobility exercises can counteract these effects. Whether you plan to continue participating in spin, HIIT, or strength classes for years to come, incorporating controlled articular rotations (CARs) and stretching into your routine can significantly contribute to your long-term mobility.
3 Controlled Articular Rotations to Incorporate into Your Mobility Routine
Ready to enhance your mobility? By consistently including controlled articular rotations in your routine, even just a few times per week, you can experience all of the aforementioned benefits. Here, Roup demonstrates a simple CARs mobility routine that she has developed, which can be completed within 5 to 10 minutes. Consider trying this mobility routine before your workout or as a morning routine. When performing each CAR, be sure to move slowly and with intention in order to fully engage each joint.
How it operates: Utilize this dynamic warm-up to target mobility in your hips, spine, and shoulders. Repeat the circuit three times, performing each movement for 10 repetitions (in both directions if applicable).
You will require: An optional yoga mat.
Hip Controlled Articular Rotations
A. Begin in a quadruped position with hands under shoulders and knees under hips, maintaining a neutral back. This will be your starting point.
B. Activate your core and raise your right leg while bringing it towards your right tricep. Keep your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
C. Return your right knee to align with your right hip, maintaining the 90-degree bend in your knee. Ensure that your right ankle, knee, and hip are all at the same height.
D. Complete the rotation by rotating your right hip so that your right ankle is directly above your right knee, with the sole of your right foot facing the ceiling.
E. Lower right knee to the ground with precision, landing beneath right hip in the original starting position.
F. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction, lifting right knee behind you to align with right hip, and continue the rotation in reverse. Return to the tabletop position. That constitutes one repetition.
Perform 10 repetitions. Change sides and repeat.
Back Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)
A. Begin in a quadruped position with hands beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips, maintaining a neutral back. This serves as your initial stance.
B. Inhale and draw your chin towards your chest. Engage your core and progressively round your spine, vertebra by vertebra, until you achieve a rounded contour. The sacrum, located at the base of the lower back, should gradually descend as you roll down from each vertebra up to neck flexion.
C. Reverse the movement starting from the base of your neck, slowly arching your spine one vertebra at a time. Lift your chest and tailbone while lowering your belly button towards the floor. Continue until you attain a fully arched spine, with the tailbone and sacrum rising last.
Perform 10 repetitions.
Shoulder Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)
A. Commence by sitting on your heels or assuming a kneeling position, aligning your shoulders over your hips and your knees. Keep your arms at your sides. (You may also perform this exercise while standing.)
B. Engage your core and slowly extend your right arm in front of you, ascending to shoulder level with your palm facing inward and your thumb leading the way. Continue raising your right arm until it reaches a fully extended position above your head, with your right biceps near your right ear and the pinky finger side of your hand facing forward.
C. Pause momentarily at the peak of the movement. Internally rotate your arm so that your pinky finger faces the back of the room.
D. Leading with your right thumb, sweep your right arm behind you and downwards in a complete circle, concluding with your right arm at your side.
E. Reverse the motion: leading with your right pinky finger, extend your right arm behind you and lift it until you reach the maximum range of motion.
F. Externally rotate your right arm so that your palm faces upward. Continuing to lead with your right pinky finger, raise your right arm until it is fully extended overhead, with your right biceps next to your right ear.
G. Lower your right arm, still fully extended and with your palm facing inward.
H. Complete the exercise with your right arm down at your side, returning to the starting position. That completes one repetition.
Perform 10 repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.
Thank you for your input!