Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 45: How To Use CARs As An Assessment - Part 1

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) is one of the fundamental tools within the Functional Range Conditioning system.  Outside of maintaining articular health and range of motion, CARs can be an assessment tool for your body. 

It can help you identify areas that need improved mobility, rule out joint dysfunction, and help you create a specific mobility plan based off your needs keeping you from wasting hours on stretching areas of your body that won't offer you the most bang for your buck.  

In part one of this series, we will discuss the difference between opening angle pain, closing angle pain, and what is okay to feel throughout the process.  Each one of these things tells us something different about our bodies, and should be the first thing we pay attention to when going through our CARs routine. 

Part 1: How to do Hip and Shoulder CARs and determining if opening angle pain, closing angle pain.

Part 2: Rotational deficits active vs passive, and if needed how to attack the joint capsules.

Part 3: Based on active mobility with no closing angle discomfort, start working the directions that feel most limited.  Address Cramping.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, and concerns let me know!

Move Well, Stay Strong.

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 44: Serratus Slides for Shoulder Health

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body.  Due to this, our shoulders have a strong need to be stable.  Unfortunately, today's lifestyle puts us into repetitive postures that are not conducive to these needs. 

Sitting down at a desk all days causes stiffness/tightness of the upper traps and pecs, and weakness of the deep neck flexors and serratus anterior (SA). 

One simple, yet effective exercise that helps build healthy shoulders is serratus slides.  This drill is used primarily to strengthen the SA which is responsible for stabilizing your shoulders on the rib cage, and helps us reach our arm overhead. 

Check out the video below to learn how to perform serratus slides. 

Found this helpful? Left you intrigued? Leave your questions in the comments below!

Move Well, Stay Strong.

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 43: Isometrics for Increasing Hip Stability

If you have been working on improving your mobility and continue to notice pain or stiffness - your issue may not be mobility, but actually stability

When an area is painful, a couple things happen. 

  1. The tissues tolerance to load is decreased.  Meaning that when our body perceives a position or movement to be threatening, it will cause a pain response.  Injury and pain manifest when the forces acting on the body exceed the capabilities of the tissue. When an area becomes painful, the threshold drops, and the response is - postures and positions that used to not cause pain now do. 
  2. Our bodies cortical mapping of the area gets distorted.  The homunculus, according to Wikipedia is a distorted representation of the human body, based on a neurological "map" of the areas and proportions of the brain dedicated to processing motor functions, or sensory functions, for different parts of the body. 

When pain is present, the representation of that area gets distorted.  This leads to lack of stability, and the perception of tightness in the area.  When this happens, we have already unconsciously learned to compensate our movement patterns.  

Why Isometrics Work

  1. Isometrics are muscle contractions that do not require actual joint movement.  This allows us to activate and use muscles without increasing inflammation.  This not only allows us to start to exercise without increasing someones pain, but isometrics are also a great way to help reduce pain. 
  2. Isometric contractions can act in restoring cortical mapping.  The decrease in pain levels and the afferent information going back to the brain can be enough to make temporary changes.  This then opens a window of opportunity for us to continue making long term changes. 

Watch the video below to watch one of my favorite glute isometric circuits that I learned from Adam Wolf in order to help restore stability of the hip and decrease low back pain.

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 42: How Should You Be Doing Mobility Work

Welcome back to #TuneUpTuesday!  I can't believe this has been going strong for 42 weeks. The goal of this series is to help tune-up your mobility, workouts, and fitness habits over the course of 2017 and beyond. 

With the start of the Par Four Performance Virtual Kinstretch classes, I have been getting a lot of questions about what type of mobility training one should do, and when is the best time to do it. 

Let me start by saying that mobility training is an individual practice, what works best for me may not be the best for you.  I highly recommend playing around with the frequency you perform mobility training, as well as when you use different types of mobility training.  

Today's post focuses on leaving you with a few rules of thumb to help guide you along your journey. 



1. Passive Stretching - This type of stretching is assisted.  Either by gravity, or by a partner - some external force is helping you stretch a muscle.  Examples: Yoga, having a friend stretch your hamstrings, stretching your chest in a doorway. 

When to use it:  Passive mobility serves a purpose in two ways.  

A) Short duration stretches of up to 30 seconds can improve ROM by improving your tolerance to stretching. 

B) Long duration stretches of > 2 mins, every day for 5-8 weeks can help create actual tissue change, ie) make tissue longer (increase in sarcomere length).

Beneficial for when you feel really tight.

Improving passive mobility does not mean you can actively access it.  This opens up a new window of range, but doesn't serve us any benefit when our body needs to use it.

2. Movement Prep/Dynamic Mobility - These are dynamic movements that mimic what you would be doing in the gym or sport in order to prepare your body.  Examples: Toe Touch, Squat to Stand, Greatest Stretch etc...

When to use it: Right before your workout/athletic event

This is beneficial to raise the temperature of your tissues, and actively work patterns that will be needed for activity.  This can help prevent injury and improve performance. 

The issue is, if you don't have good mobility in areas you may compensate from other areas to access the movement pattern.

3. Active Stretching - or kinetic stretching, as we term it in the Functional Range Conditioning world.  This uses muscular contractions to help improve your ACTIVE MOBILITY.  Examples: Controlled Articular Rotations, Isometrics, Eccentrics, Kinstretch.

Benefits: Active mobility helps you actively control your flexibility to help decrease risk of injury and improve performance.


Rules of Mobility

1. No high intensity isometrics before working out or athletic events.

Before events, you can do submaximal active mobility drills (around 30-50% intensity), or do movement prep/dynamic warm-ups before hand. 

2. Do something everyday.

My suggestion is do controlled articular rotations everyday.  They serve a multitude of function from keeping your joints healthy to allowing you to assess your joints.

Also, I suggest focusing on your weakest links.  If you notice you have decreased mobility of hip IR and spinal extension... do that everyday until it gets better.  Then focus on your next weakest links. 

3. Do Kinstretch classes on off days or use them as recovery days.

You can do Kinstretch on other days too, but I would suggest saving these workouts for your off days, or several hours after your workout.  Kinstretch can be neurologically demanding at times, and doing it before a workout/athletic event can drain the nervous system.  Kinstretch is meant to compliment your training program, not hinder it.  Using this rule of thumb will help keep your body feeling fresh week long.

Follow these rules to mobility training, and start putting an effort into improving how your body feels and performs.

Move Well, Stay Strong.

If you want to learn more about the Virtual Kinstretch Classes, sign up to the Par Four Performance newsletter below to get access to a FREE class.

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 41: Prone Shoulder CARs

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) have been one of the best things since slice bread.  The crazy part is there is nothing magical about them.  CARs simply are movements that we do that force us to challenge our end ranges of motion allowing us to improve our joint health, improve our bodily control, and help us assess our bodies. 

Also, CARs can be done in numerous ways.  If you can move your joint from said position, you can challenge your range of motion in a number of ways. 

One of my favorite ways to challenge shoulder range of motion is by doing my shoulder CARs from the prone (lying on your stomach) position.  

Check out the video below to learn how.

Move Well, Stay Strong.

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Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 40: Frog Position PAILs/RAILs

The "Frog" position PAILs/RAILs is a great exercise for improving hip mobility.  It is personally one of my favorites that I give to those with low back pain all the time.  Check out the video for more information. 

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Move Well, Stay Strong. 

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 39: Hip Extension End Range Lift Offs

When it comes to training, I always talk about how we need to have adequate mobility for the tasks we place on our body. Just about every lower body exercise requires hip extension to complete, and lacking mobility or control at the end range can cause breakdown in technique.

Lack of hip extension is more common than you may think; improving it can improve function and performance.  Check out the video below to learn how.

End Range Lift Offs serve as a great exercise to either prepare your body for your workout or as a mobility drill completed on a day to day basis to focus on your mobility limitations.  Remember the goal here is to challenge your hip extension! So, if you can easily lift your leg off the floor, you are taking it too easy on yourself and are not working your end range mobility.

Move Well, Stay Strong.

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 38: Should You Stretch Your Tight Hamstrings

When it comes to tight hamstrings, there is no one solution to solving the issue.  But there is one thing I can safely say, more times than not, stretching is not the answer.

Your tight hamstrings are not tight at all.  What you are feeling is a perception of tightness.  Your nervous system is making you feel tight to prevent you from moving into positions it doesn't deem safe.  

If you don't know where to turn after stretching, watch the video below for one of my favorite drills to decrease hamstring "tightness."

Have questions, comments, or concerns?  Let me know down below.  If you found this helpful sign up for my newsletter!

Move Well, Stay Strong.

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 37: Fixing Your Kettlebell Swing Part 2

In part one of this series, I covered how to properly set-up and perform the kettlebell swing.  You can click here for that post.

Today's post will cover how to correct two swing faults: extending the lower back at the top of the swing, and being over active with the arms.

Check it out!

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Move Well, Stay Strong.

Tune-up Tuesday Episode 36: Fixing the Kettlebell Swing Part 1

The kettlebell swing can be one of the most effective exercises for building lower body power and endurance.  It is also a great tool to help improve metabolic conditioning and weight loss. 

The effectiveness of this exercise is reliant on proper technique.  The importance of a good hinge position and usage of the legs to drive power can help you improve performance while improving lower back dysfunction.

Check out the video below on how to properly perform kettlebell swings.

Stay tuned for next weeks post where I cover drills to help improve common kettlebell swing errors. 

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Move Well, Stay Strong.