What is FRC® (Functional Range Conditioning™)?

Shauna Boles Fitness 369
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What is FRC® and why would I integrate it into my training program?

One of the most frequent questions I get as a yoga instructor is, “What is the difference between yoga and FRC®?” Today, I will attempt to answer that question once and for all.

Functional Range Conditioning™ has received tremendous attention lately.

Thank goodness for that! The attention is for good reason.

FRC® is a scientific method of training movement in an attempt to maintain and/or regain full range of motion in every joint in the body. Training movement in this way, as Dr. Andreo Spina  (founder of the FRC® system) says, “Makes stuff work nice.” When our bodies move the way evolution intended, then we are able to build strength in our end ranges of motion. By building strength in our end ranges, we gain better control of our physical movements. And, I think you would agree, athletes who have better control of their bodies typically fair best in the world of competition.

FRC® is quickly catching on and is being used by a number of college and professional organizations.

The System

We begin by assessing what the player has available to them in terms of range of motion.

We do this with a set of exercises called CARs (controlled articular rotations). As we being to take a joint through its articulations, we quickly find places where we can compensate with other parts of the body to attain more ROM (range of motion). in the beginning, it is the instructor who is noticing the compensations and pointing them out to the athlete. Soon enough, however, the athlete becomes aware of them himself, and begins to work in ways to avoid compensation. At that point he has begun the process of gaining better control of his movements.

We then begin performing next-level mobility drills such as PAILS/RAILS. With PAILS and RAILS (progressive/regressive angular isometric loading) the goal is perform isometric contractions at the end of a joint’s active range. By doing this, we can regain about 15 degrees of ROM at each end of the joint spectrum. In other words, we can get 15 more degrees more flexion and 15 degrees more extension. Most importantly, we also have the strength to control those end ranges!

Other mobility drills such as Eccentric Neural Grooving, End Range Lift Offs, and Eccentric and Concentric Contractions are also programmed in as athletes begin to gain more control.

Mobility/Flexibility

Mobility and flexibility are buzz words in the fitness industry these days. Let’s take a minute to understand these terms.

Mobility is the ability to move. So, by definition, we are all “mobile”. What do we mean then, when we say, “I want to be more mobile?” I would argue that you already are.

Flexibility is the ability to bend without breaking. Using that definition, we could repeat the conversation from above. You already are flexible!

Yet, when clients come to me they typically say one of two things:

“I want to be more mobile.”

“I want to be more flexible.”

Or, they say both.

I would like to change the conversation to a more specific explanation of what a client hopes to gain. I believe what a client, especially and athlete, really wants is to have greater control of their body by getting into deeper positions and being able to maintain control in those positions.

Avoiding Injury

When the capacity of a joint is less than the load placed on the joint, injury occurs.

If that happens, rehab will be required to bring the athlete back to their previous level of performance. In rehab, we make sure that the load placed on the joint is less than the capacity of the joint. Adding load to a joint, a little at a time, we bring the capacity of the joint back to normal.

Using an FRC® program during training ensures that the capacity of the joint is always greater than the load placed on it, so that injury prevention is at the forefront of our training. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Nonetheless, even in those circumstances, using the FRC® program gives us the best opportunity to stay on the field and out of rehab.

Why FRC® Instead of Yoga?

In conclusion, please understand that I am not bashing yoga. I love yoga. I still practice yoga. If,however, I am choosing one of these disciplines to program into an athlete’s training program, I am choosing FRC® every time.

The Law of Specificity explains why. We’ve heard is said a million times: The way we practice is an indicator of the way we play. When we play, we never want to go into our greatest range of PASSIVE flexibility. Our greatest passive range is where we get hurt because we don’t have ownership of our passive ranges. What we want is to go into our greatest ACTIVE range because we own our mobility there. And FRC® is the answer to gaining more active range as seen in the save below.

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