Expert Answers: Safe Rotational Exercises


By Yael Grauer |

Q | 

A | Rotational movements are essential in daily life, increasingly popular in the gym, and invaluable in athletics. Whether you’re turning to grab something from the back seat of your car, performing a Russian twist, or working on your golf swing, moving in the transverse, or horizontal, plane is a critical skill that requires speed, power, stability, and mobility.

“Rotational exercises are important, but how you do them is even more important,” says Jamie Yang, DPT, OCS, CSCS. “The prerequisite to performing rotational exercises safely is to improve your mobility in the upper back and hips, and to strengthen your core so you can control your lower back.”

That’s because the orientation of the joints in your back’s lumbar region does not allow for a lot of rotation. In fact, too much mobility in the lower back can lead to disc degeneration, problems with the spine’s facet joints (stabilizers that should be able to move smoothly without grinding), and other injuries.

When performing rotational exercises, protect your lower back by following these rules:

  1. Rotate from your hips and thoracic spine (the upper and middle parts of your back).

For more on safe spinal rotation, visit “Expert Answers On Spine Rotation“.

Yang says the Open Book (below) is ideal for developing rotation mobility.

Open Book

  1. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.

This article first appeared as part of “Expert Answers” in the June 2016 issue of Experience Life magazine. .

Illustrations by Kveta

A squat brace will help you learn how to stabilize throughout your core. Once you master that, you can add in a rotation.Practice an isometric hold on the Swiss ball before switching to a rotational crunch to build up your ability to drive through your upper back.

Creak, Crackle, Pop!

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