Use It or Lose It!

Most of us brush our teeth multiple times a day to keep them healthy and promote longevity.  This has become a standard daily activity begun as children under parental instruction for generations now.  We do this because teeth are important in allowing us to partake in our day to day lives. 

Why is it then, the majority of people do not have a daily routine to look after our joints?  Joints allow us to move and perform our activities of daily living. A poorly performing, painful joint can make life extremely difficult, similar to unhealthy teeth.  So why are we not trying to optimize and manage our joints on a daily basis like we do our teeth.

Controlled Articular Rotations, or CARs, are defined by Dr Andreo Spina as “Active, rotational movements at the outer limits of articular motion”.  Without getting technical, CARs aim to isolate movement to a single joint and explore this joints capacity through its available range of motion.  They help to maintain the integrity of a joint and can improve a poorly functioning articulation.  The beautiful thing about CARs is their ability to be used for varying needs.  In the presence of joint dysfunction CARs can be used for rehabilitation, joint maintenance can be performed with a daily routine or joint training with higher levels of muscle irradiation.

The awareness of a daily routine is what we want to focus on here.  Use it or lose it!, right?  We have all heard this term and many of us use it in respect to movement.  Stop and think for a second, when was the last time you had your shoulder rotated to reach as far behind you as possible, or your hip rotated to hold your knee as high off the ground and out to the side as you are able?

These are not positions the majority of people require on a daily basis, which means they are not being used regularly, and remember the saying, use it or lose it!  You may not use these positions often, but in an instance when you are required to move into a position you rarely use, you want your body to have the ability to do so.

Movement activates mechanoreceptors in our tissue.  These mechanoreceptors provide feedback to our brain about the movement being performed.  The more information the brain gets the better we perform, this is why repetition helps improve learned activities.  CARs help to optimize the muscular control of joints, limiting unwanted repetitive forces due to sub optimal movement, thus maintaining joint health and helping prevent injury.


Above is an example of shoulder CARs.  For the daily routine a small amount of tension should be held in every muscle and the rotation should be performed slowly three times in each direction.  The aim is to isolate movement to the target joint and avoid compensation from other joints.

To finish we will use another quote from Dr Andreo Spina.  CARs should be performed "Every Damn Day!"

Keep moving!

The Gap Physio