Functional Range Release (FRC): Course Review

Before this weekend we would of sworn to you that we had extremely good movement patterns and had a firm grasp of our limitations within our own bodies. After all, as a staff most of us could pistol squat, elbow lever, skin the cat, do single arm push-ups etc... oh and we are Physical Therapists who analyzes movement everyday.   After taking FRC, however, we quickly found that we lack many of the pre-requisites for the same movements we thought we were doing so effortlessly.  

As Joe Gambino pointed out, "Over the past 2-3 years I have had chronic low back pain.  Not only that, but 1 month ago I re-injured my back and have just returned to working out this week.  With all this being said, I still thought I moved well, I mean c'mon I did score a 17 on the FMS.  That as Dr. Spina said is the definition of "pure insanity", and it took his unconventional wisdom for me to realize this."  

The FRC system is his interpretation of the best available research from various fields, in which he created "a system of training which applies the scientific methods to the acquisition and maintenance of functional mobility articular resilience and articular health and longevity".  Our in other words a way to CONTROL YOURSELF.  

The foundation of FRC (and Functional Range Release) is through the BIOFLOW theory in which at the cellular level all tissues in the body are connected.  Via this principle force is defined as the "language cells speak", and in order to cause adaptations in the body we need to communicate with cells to alter DNA composition through mechanotransduction.  Hence, we SHOULD be thinking of training as a form of communication with the cells and tissues of our body.  This is also why the FR and FRC courses blend together so perfectly.

Functional Range Conditioning utilizes Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) and varying levels of isometric and eccentric contractions that help you begin to gain control to your passive ranges of motion.  As you develop strength in ranges that you previously could not control, they slowly become accessible to you as you learn to control and use those movements in everyday life and with exercise. 

A great concept which came out of the course is that there are no such things as "movement patterns".  As hunters and gatherers we moved to survive.  As primitive homo-sapians we didn't attempt a 1 RM deadlift, or try to do as many push-ups as possible.  But rather we crawled, ran, jumped, climbed and fought to survive.  Since our cells have no brain, it does not understand what a squat or burpee is, it just understands movements.   This is described by the Dynamic Systems Theory, which states that even elite athletes are unable to reproduce invariant movement patterns despite years of practice, and that movement variability is actually a skill of motor performance and allows us to account for external variables that can affect us.  

Fascial connections opened up the door to looking at the body as more then just individual muscles.  FRC took this thought process even further looking at tissues at the microscopic level.

Fascial connections opened up the door to looking at the body as more then just individual muscles.  FRC took this thought process even further looking at tissues at the microscopic level.

When it comes to injures, Dr. Spina says "You will always regret not training the positions you get hurt in".  This contradicts conventional wisdom in rehab today.  When someone comes to physical therapy, we tend to not want to train that movement.  For instance, if someone has an anterior dislocation of the glenohumeral joint, they tend to have apprehension whenever going into external rotation (which would make sense).  However, if you never train into external rotation after the injury, you will continue to have deficits in that direction.  So if you ever try and throw a ball again, snatch or just plain move, you will be hindered. 

The FRC system also makes correcting and assessing movement clearer. Instead of focusing on global movements like thoracic rotation or a squat pattern, FRC assesses each joint locally to ensure proper movement.  This means that we look for full articular range of motion with disassociation from the surrounding joints (ie comepensations).  By looking at local motion you can catch impairments that you might otherwise miss.  For example you may have a closing angle pain while in extension and rotation, but if you only tested pure rotation and pure extension you would of missed the area of dysfunction.  

Checking for the ability for the scapula to retract independently from GH joint extension. 

Checking for the ability for the scapula to retract independently from GH joint extension. 

The final advice form the course is not to perform movements because you see someone else doing it.  Think about why you want to do it (is someone else telling you to do so, you think it looks cool, or is it truly is functional movement that will make you better at what you do in life.)   If you follow the likes of Andreo Spina, Dewey Nielson, Hunter Fitness and Dana John you will see they are able to do some remarkable things with their bodies.  Things they have earned and trained for, not simply because they were "trying them out".  Secondly, if you deem an exercise something that should be attempted or added into your training program, assess what each joint is supposed to be doing during the movement.  Once you do this you can look at what your movement entails.  If they match, great, do that movement, if not, work on the prerequisites so that if you were do the movement you are prepared.  

The FRC course is something that challenged our bodies as well as our thought process and we highly recommend it to anyone in the field interested in learning from some of the best and brightest minds in the business, and pretty good movers as well!  

The Perfect Stride staff with Dr. Andreo Spina and Dana John at the completion of the FRC certification seminar. 

The Perfect Stride staff with Dr. Andreo Spina and Dana John at the completion of the FRC certification seminar. 

Until next time, Happy Rehabbing.