Maintaining the Range of Motion You Already Have

Ok gang, last time we spoke about the difference between mobility, flexibility and end range strength. This time we talk about maintaining the range of motion (ROM) you already have and how to safely increase your ROM.

Maintaining the Range of Motion the You Already Have

In movement and mobility we talk about how you have to “earn” the ROM that you have. Once you have full “ownership” of that range, you can think about increasing the range in a controlled fashion. All the while, you should be looking to maintain the range you currently have, whilst ever decreasing the distance between your passive and active ranges of motion (more on this in my previous post).  A lot to think about right? Well yes sort of, but if you work at it little and often you’ll be amazed at the results you see and also how that translates to better movement and performance everywhere else in your life.

Maintenance vs Increasing Range of Motion

Maintenance of Range of Motion

When we talk about “maintaining” the range, we talk about keeping the current range of motion that we already have. The body is a very efficient system. If it is not consistently being taken into areas around the joint, then it will simply believe it is not needed any more. This is where the term “use it or lose it” comes from. For efficiency, the body will simply stop accessing that area if it feels like the energy is wasted going to that particular range.

By sending messages from the brain to the body to consistently access those areas, and by constantly taking it through it’s full ranges of motion, you’ll succeed in maintaining the range. This is where the ideas of Controlled Articular Rotations comes from in from the Functional Range Conditioning school of thought. 

What are CARs?

CARS use active, rotational movement drills at the outer limits of motion in order to teach articular adaptation. CARS teaches our central nervous system how to control these new ranges of motion. In CARS all rotations are conducted actively and in a controlled manner with constant attempts on “expanding the circle.” By accessing this neurological control we can safely prepare our body for more advanced movements.

Check out my latest IGTV to see an example of how we perform CARS on the wrist.

Increasing ROM

Once we “own” our range, meaning that although not necessarily completely equal, theres a small difference in how far we can actively and passively stretch our muscles. We can look to increase the range of motion around a particular joint. Many people believe yoga is the answer to this. In reality there are much safer and effective ways of gradually increasing range of motion around the joint. Mobility training tools like PAILS (Progressive Articular Isometric Loaded Stretches and RAILS (Regressive Articular Isometric Loaded Stretches) again form the FRC school of thought have been proven to be a far faster way of achieving increased controlled ROM around a joint.

What are PAILs and RAILs?

PAIL’s stands for Passive Angular Isometric Loading, and RAIL’s stands for Regressive Isometric Angular Loading. PAIL’s uses isometric conditioning in progressively larger articular angles in order to simultaneously expand and strengthen increasing ranges of motion. RAILS use isometric conditioning in progressively smaller articular angles to simultaneously expand and strengthen decreasing ranges of motion. The goal is to allow your tissues to be more adaptive over time. As you continue to use these strategies your body will be able to adapt and gain more function over time.

How does this translate to your training?

No matter what movement you are doing, you have to think about accessing multi directional pathways of the body. Side to side, forwards, backwards, pushing, pulling. By balancing out these movements we serve to have a more efficient, better performing body.

Lots of disciplines of movement focus predominantly on a a couple of these pathways. For instance, yoga is a very push dominant discipline – think pushing against the ground in downward dog, upward dog, chaturanga (half “push” up position). In its traditional format it is also very centred on forward facing movement. 

HIIT classes are also somewhere where it is particularly challenging to access more pull centred movement (with the exemption of rows and pull ups). Squat, lunge, burpees, all usually forward facing.

This is where rock climbing comes into its own. Not only are we actively exploring range of motion around the hip and shoulder joints in particular, we’re also performing dominantly pull focussed movements. Very good for balancing out our push centered exercises. 

In life we live 360, not just in limited planes of motion. So whichever discipline you choose, think about how you can use a number of directions, how can you bring in rotation? How can you bring in pulling as well as pushing elements? This is where cross training and mobility really comes into play. Both CARS and PAILS and RAILS account for this multi directional movement and will undoubtedly increase your performance and efficiency through these movement planars.

For more information on the FRC principles you can visit their website at

Sending health & happiness,

Kim x


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