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CARs – Your Daily Routine For Driving Joint Health


With the number of people now spending the bulk of their days at home and likely more time on their phones or in front of the TV, it is now more important than ever to get up and move throughout the day to prevent our joints and muscles from the aches and pains of being more sedentary may bring.

Now, there are many ways for us to get up and move to ensure that our bodies stay strong, mobile, healthy and feel good while we are basically quarantined to our homes but I am going to share a morning routine that I do and we have programmed into many of our athletes programs to help keep their joints moving well and feeling great.

This morning routine is called CARs which stands for Controlled Articular Rotations. It was developed by
Dr. Andreo Spina who is the leader of: and is a major component
of their Functional Range Conditioning Specialist ™ certification. I did the course 2 years ago and have
been using CARs myself and with my athletes ever since.

Here is a brief definition of the terms in the routine:

Controlled – This simply means that the movements you do should be done in a slow, controlled

Articular – This means joint or the point where bones articulate (connect) with one another.

Rotations – A circular motion that occurs at a joint.

Without getting into a major anatomy lesson, each major joint or group of joints in your body will
typically be able to go through some degree of flexion, extension, adduction, abduction and rotation.
The goal of the CARs routine is to take each of these major joints through the maximum range of motion
of that joint in a slow, controlled manner without movement or help from other joints.

So, how do we set up to do the CARs routine to make this happen?

One of the most important parts of the routine is to go through the movement without help from other
joints. In order to minimize movement in all other joints but the one(s) you are focusing on, it is
important to create (irradiate) tension in the muscles around those other joints. To understand the
effectiveness of irradiation, here is a little exercise to try out:

Clasp your hands together in front of your body with your arms bent. Now, using only the muscles in
your hands squeeze your hands and feel the amount of pressure there is. Next, add pressure from your
forearm muscles. You should feel more pressure. Next, involve your upper arm muscles (biceps and
triceps) and you should feel even more pressure. Then, activate the muscles in your shoulders, chest
and upper back and finally spill that tension down into your core/torso and lower body. You may
actually feel the body shaking a bit when at this point. With the addition of each group of muscles
contracting, the tension should have increased. This is irradiation and this is how you will prevent
movement at other joints while you perform your CARs routine.

Now that you understand the importance of irradiating tension in the body to prevent movement at
other joints while going through your routine, here is a guideline to your daily CARs routine:

  • start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Each repetition will start with an inhale through the nose and a sharp but not full exhale through
    the mouth. As you are exhaling, irradiate tension from your midsection out to the rest of the
    body. As you go through the controlled articular rotation it is important to maintain the
    irradiation while continuing to breathe.
  • Take the joint(s) in question through a full range of motion and imagine that you are trying to
    move that joint as if you were in a pool where there is resistance from the water (slow and
    controlled) so each rotation takes around 5 seconds in each direction to do.
  • You will perform 3-5 rotations in each direction for each joint before moving onto the next
  • Perform the CARs in the following order to start: Neck, Spine, Scapula (Shoulder Blades),
    Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist, Hip. All of these can be done standing for the time being but there are
    many different body positions that these can be done. The Knees and Ankles can be done in a
    seated position, either on the floor or in a chair.
  • Here is a video that will take you through the entire body:

Watch the video for each area and then pause and go through the 3 rotations in each direction
before moving onto the next video. Remember to do them slow and controlled and remember
to irradiate tension in the rest of your body.

  • It is important to note that if you feel any pain when doing your CARs that you shorten your
    range of motion at the point of pain and avoid that specific position altogether. Gradually,
    over time you should be able to increase the range of motion at that position while avoiding

Implementing CARs into your daily routine

Ideally, you start your day with the CARs routine. If you do this, your body should be energized and
moving well before you get your day going. This way, there are no real excuses to not do them. Waking
up 10 minutes earlier is a lot easier than waking up 30 or 60 minutes earlier to workout. If you can not
do your routine at the start of your day, reserve a 10-15 minute block in the middle or the end of your
work day to free up those joints from the typical work positions we get into throughout the day (head
forward posture, rounded shoulders, hip flexed, etc.). Note that CAR’s can be done more than once in a
day or if you have certain joints that specifically cause discomfort, do CAR’s for those joints more often.

Try doing the CARs routine daily for the next 2 weeks. I think you will find that your joints will be feeling
and moving better than they have in a long time. You should also find that your regular workouts
should be more productive as well with your improved strength and mobility in your body.

Until next time, stay healthy!

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