Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) to Improve Mobility

A few factors can affect range of motion within the body. However, when we think of range, we immediately think of flexibility or strength. A very common cause of range of motion (ROM) deficits is lack of mobility of the joint(s) within that body region. You can be very flexible but still have poor mobility within joint surfaces. This may cause you to have difficulty actively controlling movement as well as a tough time trying to load with weight or resistance. Continue reading and you will find out how to improve mobility using Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) in physical therapy and how they can help you with overall health of your body and increase your movement ability. 

Cars physical therapy symmetry pt miami

What is Mobility and Why is it Important?

To know why mobility is important, we must first really understand what mobility is and how it differs from flexibility. Flexibility is the amount that a joint or group of muscles/joints is able to achieve through an unrestricted range of motion without pain. Mobility on the other hand is the available strength that we possess within that available range of motion. So to summarize it, Mobility is equal to strength and flexibility combined. Why is this important? In order to maintain proper joint health and keep these joints moving optimally, we must have the ability to load a joint with body-weight or additional resistance through different ranges of motion. 

What Happens if I Have Poor Mobility?

The inability to achieve good mobility places us at higher risks for injury when completing daily activities including lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling. If the body is unable to maintain strength and stability when completing movements within a new range of motion, it places a lot of additional stress on tissues that aren’t yet ready for them. 

This is why it is so important to have good mobility. In order to improve durability of these body structures, we must focus on improving mobility and sturdiness to further fortify our muscles, joints and tendons.

Controlled Articular Rotations CARS symmetry pt miami

CARs Effect on Improving Mobility

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) are completed within the end-ranges of joints in each direction. The important part about CARs is that they are active movements. With these movements, the brain sends signals to adapt to a new range of motion with control of the muscles. This happens by completing slow, controlled, tensioned and isolated movements throughout the whole pattern. This allows for improved proprioceptive and kinesthetic awareness and a greater usable range of motion under neuromuscular control as opposed to stretching.

After completing CARs, you will see an immediate improvement in mobility and capability to move through an improved joint ROM. This can help with any movement in which the specific joint is responsible, within your daily life.  Now it is time to strengthen within that new range! Overall, CARs are meant to promote active controlled movements to any joint surface through its full available range of motion, without compensation at other joints, thus improving resiliency. 

How to Perform CARs

As mentioned in the name of the exercise, these are very controlled movements and they are meant to be completed with slow speed, no momentum and no cheating are allowed! The purpose is to activate the muscles around the joint within a desired effort to be able to increase the active ROM and strength while increasing the control within greater limits of movement. 

Below are some examples listed of controlled articular rotations and joint mobility exercises for common joints of the body. 

                                 Shoulder CAR

Knee CARs                                                             Hip CARs

Hip 90/90                                                          Hip 90/90 Lift Offs

Both the shoulder and the hip are ball and socket joints and benefit from CARs. CARs helps to to target improved mobility in all motions including flexion, extension, internal rotation, external rotation and abduction. A lack of ROM in any joint can affect athletic performance and lead to risk of injuries. For example, tibial IR which is a knee motion helps with cutting and pivoting in sports. Someone with poor tibial IR who performs a high speed movement in that direction is susceptible to tearing their ACL. This is due to the lack of mobility into that range. With pathologies of either of those joints, any of those motions are likely to be affected and CARs. These work in physical therapy to help rehabilitate them back to normal.

A controlled articular rotation can be performed for any joint in the body which will help us out with movement and strength. This treatment leads to improved mobility of that body region!

“How do I Improve My Mobility?”

This frequently asked question can be answered easily. Come in and see a physical therapist at Symmetry Physical Therapy! We provide an in-depth evaluation, assessment, and treatment strategies. These include, but are not limited to the previously mentioned CARs. We can help you return to a pain-free lifestyle. We also offer other helpful treatments. These include dry needling, Winback, cupping, and scraping to help you address any problems you are dealing with. Do you live in the Miami or Brickell area and are looking for a Physical Therapist? Feel free to give us a call at (305) 331 2277 to schedule an appointment.

Book a session with us in clinic or virtually!

Check out our Youtube channel for more tips and easy-to-follow exercise videos.