One of the challenges of day-to-day movement is keeping the spine and muscles of the trunk flexible in different directions. Most of us are used to bending over, or reaching up, but what happens when we reach or look to the side? Often, the head or the arms will go with the motion, but the trunk will be immobile. The result is a compromised range of motion that gets worse as we age. Spine twist, a Pilates mat exercise, helps guard against this.
Technique for the Pilates spine twist
- Lie flat on your back. Have your arms out diagonally at each side and your palms facing down. Position your feet and knees together with your knees bent at right angles.
- Inhale and sequentially roll your spine to one side keeping your knees aligned and your shoulders on the floor at all times. Ensure that when rolling across, you move your knees and feet first followed by your hips, waist and finally your rib cage.
- Exhale and roll sequentially back through the spine to the starting position. When rolling back, move your ribcage first then your waist, hips and lastly your knees and feet.
- Repeat between 12 and 15 times, alternating sides.
Use a flexed lumbar spine to imprint your back, from your thorax to pelvis, section by section, feel your vertebrae rotate like a necklace of cotton spools, rolling them across from top to bottom and back again. If you want to intensify the exercise, try performing it with both legs in a knee-fold position with a 90-degree alignment maintained.
What are the benefits of the spine twist?
The spine twist increases the range of motion in the upper body. It does this by training the trunk to spiral on the central vertical axis while, at the same time, maintaining the support of a stable pelvis. This range of motion is vital in sports such as golf and tennis. In addition, the spine twist promotes good posture and is an opportunity to make use of the breath in the manner that Joseph Pilates encouraged: taking in a lot of fresh air and then utilising movement in order to expel old air forcefully. In the spine twist, the twisting motion assists you with feeling as if you are literally wringing the old air out.
What are some of the common mistakes people make with the spine twist?
The spine twist happens from the waist and not from the arms, shoulders, or neck. The upper body -including the head – moves as one piece. The pelvis remains stable and does not perform a twisting motion at all. You can monitor this by making sure that your feet remain even with each other.
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