Spinal Mobility - Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)

Dr. Adam Meisenhelder of Back In Motion Chiropractic & Sports Rehab in Beaverton, Oregon demonstrates Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) of the spine. This is a great drill to use as a warm-up prior to exercise, and will both increase spinal mobility and decrease your overall injury risk. 

Controlled Articular Rotations, or CARs, are a cornerstone of joint health and rehab. All too often, the focus is put on developing strength gains and increasing the weight we can lift, but in the absence of full joint range of motion and more importantly, control of that joint at end-range. I see it all the time in practice; a patient is unable to achieve a full-range overhead position without the bar - arms overhead, shoulder behind the ear, yet they are lifting heavy weight overhead, and spending countless hours training snatches or clean and jerks! The scariest part of that scenario is that the weight lifted will essentially force your shoulder into full range, but you will have no control in that position. This is how injuries occur. We force our joints into maximal end-range with high force, but the joint is not prepared to be in control of that position, and we injure the tissue - not good. 

I really wish more training took place with a focus on developing stable joint end-range first before loading, but the reality is that it's just not as fun as loading up the bar and lifting weight. So, I think a good compromise is to train joint range and strength together. 

I like to use CARs as part of a warm-up routine, moving into light PAILs and RAILs, then into a traditional strength routine. This is something that I personally employ, and it has worked extremely well in keeping my sometimes nagging shoulder and hip injuries a distant memory. Hip, shoulder, and spine I consider to be the core joints that everyone should train for both strength and mobility. Having already covered CARs for the hip and shoulder, I now present you with CARs for the spine. 

As with all CARs drills, take your time. The movements should be slow and deliberate, with self-imposed resistance to best stimulate the joint receptors. Just like Yoga and Tai Chi, you should find your Zen when performing CARs. 

CARs are also a fantastic complement to the chiropractic care provided in our Beaverton clinic. Following a session of soft-tissue therapy with Active Release Technique and Graston Therapy, and joint manipulation, there will be increases in joint range of motion. These gains are enhanced and more easily maintained with the addition of daily CARs drills. As I always say, clinical therapy represents only a very small percentage of your week and is not a panacea. Chiropractic sports therapy will point your body in the right direction, but staying on course requires active and daily involvement from the patient. Chiropractic is not a magic bullet. 

I challenge everyone to perform the CARs drills every day for one week, and share your experience. I think you will all be surprised at the joint range gains and also your ability to control the joint at end-range. As always, check with our incredible staff if you have any questions with these, and happy training!

Back In Motion Chiropractic & Sports Rehab - Serving The Beaverton & Portland Community For Over 25 Years - "Moving Toward Your Finish Line"

Shoulder Stability Training - PAILs & RAILs
Hip Hinge