CARs, or How to Make Your Body Go VROOM

Coach Will here to talk about CARs: Controlled Articular Rotations.

I have an irrational fondness for this exercise, and I want to tell you why. I have a lot to say--probably too much--but I wanted to lay it all out. 

One of my favorite aspects of working with humans and their bodies is that I get to interact with human realness. I'm pretty sure "realness" is not a real word.

But I bet you understand what I mean: realness is that base layer of our experience, where we have actual feelings and are actually weak and vulnerable. It's also where we are actually strong and beautiful, too. It's a cool place, even if things do get a little real at times :).

In the gym, the "real" aspect is pretty obvious: I have the chance to see, feel, challenge and support physical bodies, in real-time. Regardless of histories, goals, or opinions, the simple reality of how someone's joints work, one-at-a-time and in larger patterns, is made plain to me, and so I might know better how to help that person. I love that interaction.

At the same time, there's another even more real interaction going on: between the mover-student and themselves. Somewhat problematically, that conversation is not always the most polite (and sometimes is pretty darn harsh). I say "problematically" only euphemistically: it's one of the most damning obstacles that we see, day in and day out.

Imagine for a moment the preposterous complexity of the human organism: 60,000 miles of nerves (potentially) conduct 1,000,000,000,000,000 (that is 1 quadrillion. 15 zeros. I read it somewhere, I think from Hunter Cook) impulses across the brain each second, creating more neurological connections than there are particles in the known universe. That's a lot of complexity to sort out and understand, let alone process into powerful, willful movement (Ha! Will-ful!).

But now multiply that by all the ways our consciousness might make things more complex. Like by: deciding that certain movement-sensations are "right" or "wrong"; or by repressing the shame you feel in certain physical positions or places; or by trying to guess what others may or may not be thinking about you. Seeing and feeling what's actually going on in your body becomes a devious, frustrating task.

Fortunately, we have found tools that works on that particular ability, of seeing-feeling what is real in your body. They're called Controlled Articular Rotations, or CARs for short.

They ask for you to make the largest pain-free rotation of a single joint in your body while keeping all other joints still. Simple!

Simple, sure, but not easy.

First, CARs demand that you practice the of holding strong, of not moving; this takes huge energy and tension, but yields an equally rich flow information to your brain (more muscular tension = more nerve feedback).

Second, CARs demand an inquisitive awareness of simplified movement, at the specific joint your moving. Continuously comparing the non-movement of your body with the controlled movement of that single joint gives you an honest view of what is actually true in your body, today.

Third, this enhanced awareness is only temporary. It opens up a window in which, with more information, the movement part of your brain is able to make better decision, and you become an intrinsically better mover. For a day or so.

So, to recap: CARs are an incredible way to bring clarity to your unique physical puzzle (your body), if you can 1. work hard, 2. pay attention and 3. be consistent.

That's why we recommend ALL of our clients do them EVERYDAY. It's why I do them every morning (except Saturdays. Because, Saturdays!), and why we start every class with them.

It's also why we put together a morning CARs routine video guide, called 10 Minutes of Morning Alchemy. By showing you what CARs look like, talking you through them, and being there every morning (on your smartphone/computer, at least) we might get you to ACTUALLY start doing them :). Imagine being the person who spends a little time every morning getting sorted, inside and out...

Be well, folks!