This past weekend I attended a 2 day seminar to become certified in the Functional Range Conditioning system developed by Dr. Spina. The FRC system is different than most others in it’s belief that it’s not necessarily the muscle itself that is related to the restriction in one’s range of motion. Rather, movement is restricted due to the nervous systems control of the muscle. The aim of FRC is to increase range of motion through resetting the nervous system and simultaneously teaching the nervous system how to control the new end ranges.
Dr. Spina gave a very simple example that proved this at the beginning of day 1. If we take an athlete who can abduct their leg 90 degrees while standing on the other leg, and then do that same thing with the other side, why is it that the same athlete cannot do a middle split? 90 plus 90 does equal 180 after all, right? You can get into the details of how the hip has to move differently and tissue that crosses the groin area, etc. etc., but you see the point. The athlete can’t do a middle split because their nervous system knows that if they get down there, they may never get back up, and so as our mechanoreceptors begin sending feedback of what’s happening as our athlete attempts a middle split, the CNS (Central Nervous System) throws on the brakes to prevent any serious damage. It has nothing to do with the athletes muscle tissues not being long enough to do so, in fact the idea that muscle tissues lengthen as we stretch them has been disproved many times. This inhibition of the CNS is even more pronounced when dealing with an injury or rehabilitating an old injury as the bodies way to protect itself from more damage.
So how do we teach our nervous system? Well, that’s what we spent the rest of the weekend learning. In a nutshell, we put our joints in these end ranges our CNS is not familiar with and through many different tools of the FRC system including PAILS, RAILS, CARs, and more we teach them and we make the joint both stronger and more coordinated. Over time and with consistent work the previous inhibitions our nervous system had in place begin to change and allow more movement into these ranges and we couple that with techniques to then strengthen and control the new ranges to bulletproof the joint.
If you’re interested in learning about your own body, expanding your useable ranges, or overcoming an injury, email Shane.