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19. The Spine Twist


I don't understand the order of events when looking at where spine twist lands in the classical lineup. I feel this guy should be batting 4th or 5th and definitely before the saw. The saw is basically a combination of spine stretch forward and spine twist. If you haven't performed spine twist yet, how can you effectively perform saw? I even plucked the pictures for spine twist straight out of the saw gallery. Moving on, purpose of spine twist: increase mobility of the spine into rotation (which should be rather obvious), to stabilize the pelvis while moving the spine, improve stability through the shoulder girdle. Not appropriate for those with osteoporosis and folks with sacroiliac, low back, and some hip pathologies should avoid be careful with this one or try the modifications. 


Click here for The Spine Twist VIDEO 


Classical start: seated with legs close together and straight out in front, ankles flexed, arms out to the side at shoulder height. (other verbage from Joe: abdominals pulled in, chest out. See below for other differences between classical and contemporary versions)

Recommended start: as above, without the abs pulled in and chest out. Abdominals activated and as little tension through head/neck/chest and shoulders as possible. Feel free to switch the breath pattern.


1. Inhale rotate thoracic spine to the left.


2. Exhale de-rotate the spine back to center. 


3. Inhale rotate spine to the right. 


4. Exhale de-rotate the spine back to center. Repeat three times to each side.


Tips for success: keep equally weighted thru both sitz bones throughout the exercise, rotation should occur through the thoracic spine, to stabilize the pelvis think of rotating pelvis in the opposite direction of the spine, the arms and neck will only rotate as far as the rib cage. 


Modifications: for tight hammies same as spine stretch forward, can lower the arms/cross arms on chest/move arms forward a little to avoid shoulder impingement, place feet against a wall to help stabilize the pelvis.


Joe's cues for this exercise include: 'arms stretched backward until shoulder blades lock', 'turn head to side as far as possible', and, my favorite, use 'supreme mental and physical efforts' to twist body as far as possible. I prefer to cue the shoulder blades resting on the rib cage and breath to increase range of motion into spine rotation. His cues are very aggressive and might cause injury to really stiff spines or really unstable spines. Do we really need to create more tension in the body? Uhhhh, no. 

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