R-Phase: They’ve Been Lying to You

What does the R mean?

The R stands for Injury Rehabilitation and Mobility Restoration with the Goal of Neural Re-education (Say that 10x Fast). What it really means is if we don’t want you to get hurt, so we focus on mobility to make sure your body is prepared to move, so your body when it encounters something that might hurt it, will be ready for it.

In simpler terms, we make you move what or how you don’t normally move, to make you better, so you don’t get hurt.

Most people get the moving, but not necessarily how it makes you better, and how it makes you not get hurt.

Another problem is that people misconstrue R-Phase and think R-Phase is just what you see on the DVD and Manual. I’m here to tell you NO, it’s more than that.

*I’ve also started to rethink R-Phase as teaching you how to move (skill building), similar to how Hardstyle Kettlebells (RKC – http://www.dragondoor.com) approaches strength as a skill. You can think of R-Phase as teaching you how to Refine your movement with each joint in mind, giving you the smallest details, similar to all the details NECESSARY to properly swing a Kettlebell, whether the Hardstyle or GS way. Yes its complicated, but so is the swing when you first try it.

So, instead of thinking of R-Phase as simply joint mobility (providing lubrication for your joints), think about it more like you are showing your body the best way to move your body through space or simply giving you true awareness of what you are really trying to do, what joint you are actually suppose to be moving, and literally the many possible ways it CAN move.

Can you move your wrist like this?

Observe the rules, and all else is Dandy!

Yes, you:

1. Shouldn’t move into Pain.

2. If there’s pain: Decrease ROM (Range of Motion), until you don’t have pain.

3. If there’s pain: Decrease Speed, until you don’t have pain.

4. If there’s pain: Change position, until you don’t have pain.

Pain Signal

Pain, no, not that!

*Choose any combination of 2-4, until you aren’t moving that joint out of pain. It literally can be micro movements as small as 2-3cm. Point is to move and find whatever is necessary to make sure whatever you are moving doesn’t hurt.

Doing R, The “Right” Way

But, like Hardstyle Kettlebells there’s more than meets the eye. The main point of R-Phase (the starting point of Z-Health) is to MOVE, especially the stuff that isn’t moving like you know it should. Shit, you don’t need to buy an R-Phase DVD to move. Pick up any Kinesiology book (R.T. Floyd’s, Manual of Structural Kinesiology, is a good book for that purpose), and look up each joint and how much it’s supposed to move.

Manual of Structural Kinesiology

Manual of Structural Kinesiology: Learn it, Love it, MOVE it!

Don’t worry about the muscles, your joints are easier because your joints are the one’s that determine what your muscles actually do – Remember muscles move bones and joints around, not the other way around.

If you find a joint that can’t move, that’s what you really need to get moving. Period.

It’s okay you don’t have to be perfect…In the Beginning

If you read the manual, which I’m assuming you haven’t, (I didn’t when I first received it). You don’t have to look exactly like the people in the DVD’s “perfect.” Just like periodization even movement has a progression.

The 4 Elements of Efficiency:

1. Hit the Target (Basically, I don’t care how you look at first, I want to make sure you actually know what you’re moving. You can look as jacked up as Frankenstein, but do you at least know this is how you are supposed to move and where you are supposed to feel it – is a shoulder circle moving your shoulder, or shoulder blade? or both?).

2. Dynamic Postural Alignment (Once you know what you’re really suppose to move, can you maintain “long” (spaces in between your back), even when your spine is bending forward or backward).

3. Synchronized Breathing (Now that you know what you’re moving and you’re hitting it correctly, and you also can maintain good posture as you move, are you holding your breathe like you’re about ready to blow one into the toilet, or is it coordinated with how you move. If you bend forward, are you exhaling? If you bend backward, are you inhaling?)

4. Balance Tension & Relaxation (Once you can do steps 1-3, does the movement look graceful. Again it goes back to do you look like you’re about to explode, while you are trying to simply move your leg back and forth).

*We’ll cover this later, but the point is in the beginning you don’t have to be perfect, you just need to know what you are supposed to be moving. Once you get better and better, THEN you start refining your movements.

Speeding Up, Slowing Down, Moving everything in Between.

To get it moving better the easiest way is to find the best position to move it in. What that means is you need to check and see what feels easier to accomplish.

For example: For those that own R-Phase. Does your ankle, while doing ankle circles, move more standing, sitting, lying down, on my side, holding a wall, so forth and so on. Find the position that your ankle moves best (and yes, there is a position which will make your ankle move much better, find it and let me know) because you need to tell your body it can move and it can move GOOD.

Stand or Sit

Do it!

Another example: For those that own any other mobility program (Super Joints, Steve Maxwell’s Joint Mobility and Recharge, Scott Sonnon’s Intu-Flow, I really don’t care). You NEED to apply the same thing. Find the best position to move in and go from there.

Supine, Prone, Lying Sideways

Do It! (part 2)

Finding the best position for you to move in is the neural re-education part. It’s telling your body that it can move better (go back to that ankle circle), and releases the brakes to let you move your ankle in other positions (let’s say you found that sitting was the best that made your ankle the most mobile, it will help you “transfer” that ankle mobility over to standing up) in the long run.

Another way of thinking about it is if you read Relax into Stretch by Pavel Tsatsouline, on any of the stretching principles, the goal isn’t muscle elongation, but literally telling your body “HEY, IT’S OKAY TO LET ME SPLIT MY LEGS OPEN LIKE I’M PREGNANT!” – Let me do it, because I showed you it was okay. Eventually it does, and that’s all it is.

Changing Speed

Listed in the R-Phase manual are four different speeds, for most people, they NEED to at first simply be working at (Standard 5s-15s per Repetition), or Super Slow (30s-1minute per Repetition) speeds. Don’t mind all the mumbo jumbo scientific stuff. It helps you concentrate on what you need to do, so you learn how to do it. From there, as you get comfortable your speed will slowly increase; let it happen naturally. *For some, especially for quick or explosive athletes, it actually may be helpful to start with the much faster speeds first. The idea is Threat Modulation and since they are used to the faster/explosive speeds and normally don’t do slower speeds, you may actually be creating more stress by making them work any slower, than they normally do.

This is a simple Metronome tool to help you worry less about speed and have a cue to rely on.


It will make it easier to concentrate on performing the movement better, rather than working at what speed you have to be at.

-Start at 40bpm. Doing any of the circular movements (wrist circles, ankle circles, shoulder circles, hip circles, lumbar circles, thoracic circles), you will be hitting only 1/8 of the circle on each beat. This is about Super Slow speed.

-Start at 40bpm. Instead of hitting 1/8 of the circle, on every beat hit every 1/4 of the circle. This is about Standard speed.

*These are the speeds you should be using for at least the first 4-8 weeks to build better control. (for general people)

Remember, Speeds are NOT a linear progression slow to fast, fast to slow, as the body isn’t meant to work that way. R-Phase starts out what you are normally comfortable with, and THEN slowing introducing new stuff into your body.

Decrease ROM or Changing Movement Direction

One thing people forget is that R-Phase is based on teaching you how to do something you can’t do. For example: an R-Phase wrist circle doesn’t have to be done in a circle. You can break it down even further into moving your wrist up/down, left/right, wrist in up position + left/right, wrist in down position + left/right, even diagonals, just in case you can’t do the circles yet.

It’s kind of like teaching a deadlift or wall squat before you teach a swing to help build a foundation for someone to work off of.

Injury Prehab/Rehab

Let’s now go to the Injury Prehab, Rehab part. What happens when you split your legs, before your body feels it’s ready for it…Yeah, you get the picture, you basically pull something. This same thing occurs with all parts of your body. If your body gets into any position it isn’t used too, well you have trouble. It reflexively tightens up like you pulling into the splits your first time – feel the groin, love the groin, tighten the groin…uhh no.

You need to give your body an idea of what that position is, what it feels like, so if say you ever did a lateral ankle tilt (for the R-Phase people), what position does that look like…oh yeah an ankle sprain, hmm train the position that you may get hurt in. So that’s how it works…yeah, “hit your own head please.” If you think this is dangerous, why deadlift, why squat? And, please don’t tell me it’s safe to squat and deadlift with a bar on your back. It’s not, but like everything, there’s risks, but the benefits to it far outweigh the perceived risks, especially if you progress properly.

An Ankle Sprain
A Lateral Ankle Tilt, or An Ankle Sprain…You Decide

The point of R-phase again is simply the building block teaching you to move one, isolated joint and to first find the best position to move it in! We want you to be aware of how and what it feels like to move your joint in general. From there, you slowly become more and more precise because your NERVOUS SYSTEM demands it, and because we want you to get better at moving your body. Remember it’s a skill thing.

In the manual it says that R-Phase is the Movement Alphabet and damn right it is. Imagine if you can’t dorsiflex your ankle (toes going up towards your knee – it’s actually ankle extension, but you don’t need to know that), what movements does that effect?  Well let’s see, walking, running, jumping, squatting, deadlifting, pressing,  and uhh standing? And that’s just the ankle. That’s why we also focus on isolated movement, as well because each specific movement is so heavily involved in everything else we do.

Imagine, now why most people are in pain. The body has to compensate for what’s wrong (ankle in this case), and create bad patterns in walking, which we do daily, everyday, over and over again. Think about doing a Kettlebell Swing while Rounding your back, over and over again, back problems yes?

So when we say everyone needs R-Phase, we don’t mean buy the f****** DVD, even though you probably can and learn a bunch of cool stuff. We mean move, then move better, then move even better because life demands you know how, and remember MOVEMENT is a SKILL, even the SMALL ones. 🙂

If you want to start on R-Phase, you can get it here:

If you don’t, just start moving, I don’t really care how you move, just do it. Don’t just learn Full Body Movements, but Isolated as well! We’ll go into why Isolated makes a difference in Part 2.

-Darryl Lardizabal

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