Conquer the Twist!
There’s a lot of rotation in our movement. Whether it’s the athletic challenge of swinging a golf club, tennis racket, or softball bat, or working in the yard digging a hole to plant a shrub, success depends in large measure on our ability to twist and where the twist takes place in the body. Some joints are designed to help generate rotation and should have good mobility, such as the ankles, hips and rib cage while other joints, in particular the knees and low back, should play more of a stability role. The likelihood of a substandard performance on the links or tennis court or injury in the yard may be a result of role confusion of your joints: your low back and knees are getting tweaked because they move too much as you twist because your ankles, hips and rib cage are simply too stiff or haven’t been put through the paces in training to use their available motion to help make you successful at the twist. So let’s do the twist, in fact conquer the twist by starting with a few basic mobility drills:
The Half Kneel Calf Stretch:
Ankle mobility is essential for total leg rotation. In this picture the calf of the front leg is stretched. The key is to keep the front heel firmly pressed into the floor as the shoulders, torso and hips move as one unit forward (in other words don’t tip your shoulders ahead of the hips). Keep the pelvis parallel to the wall to avoid twisting the spine.
The Side Step Down:
This will help improve the outward roll of the heel, which is the first link in the chain of joints necessary for rotation:
Most of the rotation that generates our movement happens by the pelvis rotating on a stable femur so training your nervous system to do this without twisting the spine goes hand and hand with having mobility in the hip.
Check out Dr. Heller’s explanation and demonstration:
The Scap(ula) Stick:
This is an excellent exercise to improve rib cage and shoulder girdle mobility with a twist that drives hip rotation. The key is the foot pivot on the ball of the foot, which allows the pelvis to turn on the femur (thigh bone) and limits lumbar spine twisting. Make sure to keep the elbows extended (straight) throughout the twist to drive rotation of the shoulder blades and rib cage.
NEXT MONTH: “ANTI-ROTATION’ STABILITY DRILLS