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I tried Functional Range Conditioning for 3 weeks and it was like a training camp for my mind-body connection

I may have stayed too long at the online yoga party. I have to love how comfortable it is, but without the guidance of a personal instructor, I skimped on strength, relied on my natural flexibility to pose deep… and pinched my shoulder.

My solution was to overdo it with some good old strength training, so I joined my local gym. When I explained my situation to Coach Dylan Elgas, he suggested I try Functional Range Conditioning (FRC). He’s an FRC mobility specialist who swears by the system both for his fitness and, which is the most inspirational thing you’ll read all day, as part of his toolkit for dealing with multiple sclerosis.

FRC was developed by Andreo Spina, DC, over a decade ago as an antidote to what he calls, with characteristic bluntness, “useless flexibility.” The program combines flexibility, strength and nervous system training to develop mobility, strengthen joints and improve body control. Its proponents even say it can prevent injury and speed healing.

Sure, I’ve heard that “exercise is lotion” and “exercise is medicine,” but how true is that, really?

Mitch Broser, DC, a chiropractor and Functional Range Systems instructor, explains, “Cells called fibroblasts are responsible for rebuilding and reorganizing connective tissue,” he explains. “These fibroblasts need to be told how to repair an injury. Through movement we can ‘talk’ to them.”

Moving through shaky ranges of motion is like giving your fibroblasts a bad blueprint. “I guess that’s how it’s supposed to work,” they shrug and build a restricted-motion joint. dr Broser warns that this can lead to repeated tissue stress and, over time, joint degeneration. FRC works by sending the right message to fibroblasts – a carefully calibrated dewonkification of movement patterns.

Sounds like it has to be super fancy, doesn’t it? So…

“Scrape your chin along your collarbone,” Elgas instructed me during my first FRC class. “Now imagine pouring water from your ear onto your shoulder. Trace the sky with your chin. Ear to shoulder, chin to chest – get a good double chin going. Now retrace your steps.”

I have to be honest, my first thought was …these are just neck circles.

Actually, they are controlled articular rotations (CARs), a standard part of mobility training. They also form the basis of FRC, a true Swiss army knife with assessment, diagnostic, maintenance, training and rehabilitation applications. A full-body CARs routine is a comprehensive examination of the range of motion of each joint, from your cervical spine to your ankles.

It’s one thing to do a few neck circles; it’s quite another to make them mindful for three minutes. After a while I started noticing nuances in the movement and by the time my time was up I had a whole new understanding of my throat. We went down my spine, and then it was time for shoulders and shoulder blades. I approached these CARs with cautious curiosity. Putting on a shirt or accidentally rolling onto my left side in my sleep was enough to make me cry out. How should I deal with three minutes of CARS on my injured shoulder?

Elgas was way ahead of me. He explained that CARs are designed to pain free freedom of movement. If it hurts, he told me, back off until it doesn’t hurt anymore. My left shoulder CAR looked less like a circle and more like a lumpy Pac-Man, but I couldn’t have felt stronger: I can move my shoulder so it doesn’t hurt!

The fact that I was able to do FRC with an injury underscores his greatest strength: inclusivity. It doesn’t require a basic fitness level to do anything with it and the goal is pure function. Sure, the level I’m training at doesn’t quite satisfy my cardio and strength needs, but it’s easy enough to add FRC to an existing workout routine without burning out.

After class, Elgas gave me my homework: make CARS every day. He recommended a schedule of “breakfast, lunch, and dinner with snacks.” I chose “morning coffee and popcorn while watching a movie”. Daily CARs helped me raise awareness of all my joints so we could focus on my shoulder in class two or three times a week.

Elgas designed a program using the FRC toolkit consisting of a series of intimidating names: Level I, II and III CARs, PAILs/RAILs (Progressive/Regressive Angular Isometric Loading), PRH/PRLO (Passive Range Hold/Lift-Off) . ) and the downright frightening sounding “eccentric neural grooving”. I’ll spare you the physiology lesson – basically, it’s isometric exercises in weird positions that you’ll hold on to for what feels like an eternity.

“Ultimately, doing all of these different training system protocols will result in us working more out of a joint capsule, layering in quality connective tissue, and then improving muscle control, endurance, and strength in those positions,” explains Elgas.

What the training protocol looks like depends on the needs of the student, the imagination of the trainer and the tools available. At one session I lay face down with my arm bent behind my back as if being arrested and used internal shoulder rotation to press my fist into my tailbone. Another saw me lying on a yoga mat at a 90-degree angle; Elgas gently pinned my arm to the floor as I struggled, like an oddly nurturing version of arm wrestling.

The goal of FRC is physical control, but there’s definitely a strong mentoring aspect to it as well. If the idea of ​​someone intensively testing your joint mobility freaks you out, FRC might not be for you.

My favorite exercise was leaning against a wall with my arm overhead as if I’m smacking an unseen partygoer, sliding my shoulder blade toward my spine, and holding it with little effort. After about seven minutes, my muscles were shaking and I ran out of energy. As I pulled away from the wall, the most amazing feeling of relief rolled down my shoulder and down my arm.

It’s been three weeks, and while my shoulder isn’t 100 percent, it is much better. I have no doubt that isometric loading has affected my muscles and connective tissues, but the biggest change I’ve noticed is mental. When I gave myself permission to use pain-free range of motion in class, I realized that there’s no reason to do things that hurt Outside the class. Mind over matter turned out to be the wrong attitude; Spirit Is Object.

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