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May 1, 2014

Twist ‘n Shout

Most are scared to twist.  It might hurt my back they say.  But aren’t we meant to twist?  Don’t we have the innate ability to twist?  We sure do!  Twisting is part of everyday life.  Even though you are moving forward or backward when walking it involves a great deal of twisting or rotation. Throwing a ball or reaching into the backseat of your car requires twisting.
Now I know, your low back (lumbar spine) is not meant to rotate.  That’s correct and our vertebral column is designed so that the lower vertebrae don’t rotate as much as the top ones.  None of us has to worry about over-rotating our vertebrae as our body has built-in checks and balances. Almost all trunk rotation comes from your ribcage (thoracic spine).  What gets people into trouble is when they don’t rotate from where they are supposed to.  Your subconscious is going to figure out a way to get done whatever you are trying to do.  It cares about effectiveness, not efficiency.  So the area above or below compensates moving awkwardly compromising its integrity.  So poor rotation in your ribcage as well as your hips leads to strain and stress in your low back and even your knees.  Most can handle this for short period of time but eventually the dysfunction will lead to pain.

Does this mean your lumbar spine doesn’t move at all?  Nope.  It moves but is responsible for bending forward, backward, and sideways.  The body is a system of mobile and stable areas.  Your lumbar spine is more of a stable area, but it still moves.  The muscles around your low back (as well as those in the front – abdominals) should stiffen up when you move.  Even though they stiffen up they still move dynamically.  This allows your body to transfer power created by your hips and legs to your shoulders and arms such as lifting a box from the floor or even swinging a bat.  People can be hesitant to work on twisting when they exercise for fear of hurting their low back.  But this power transfer and momentum created requires rotational training.  Core stiffness and core rotation are needed.  Much of this rotation is performed at the hip, but much of it is also performed at the spine! From my experience, many are tight in their thoracic spines and have poor hip rotation mobility as well as control.  Take back that funky dance.  Twist and shout ‘because you’re having a blast, not getting blasted in your back.   Watch our video on Hip Rotation for more information on this and you can test how easily you are able to rotate.

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