Safe Twisting For Your Back

Is twisting good for your back? Does it miraculously detox your internal organs as some yoga teachers claim? Or is twisting terrible for your spine as some physicians assert? Well, truthfully, the answer lies somewhere in between. Spinal rotation is one of the primary movements that the lumbar spine (low back) should be able to move through. You should also be able to bend forward (flexion), extend your spine backward (extension), and laterally bend your spine (leaning to the side) which is actually a specific type of rotation. But this video zooms in on rotation (twisting). I show you how to safely twist into a forward twist, and how to safely twist backward. I also explain why twisting while leaning forward gets such a bad rap, and what you can do to minimize your injury risk. See the full transcript below for “Safe Twisting For Your Back”.

“Hello I’m Dr. Sandy Baird from Riverstone Chiropractic here in Oakland California and today I’m going to show you how to safely twist. Now we’re gonna be twisting to the back and twisting to the front and there’s different spinal biomechanics that are involved with each one so I’m gonna break it down and show you how to do that. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about twisting your back… some people would say it’s the worst thing you can ever do for your spine, other people would say that it “detoxes” your internal organs, so I think the answer is somewhere in between those two extremes. Spinal twisting or rotation is one of the main movements that your spine needs to be able to do to promote healthy biomechanics to properly lubricate the joints and to safely move you around. So there’s flexion, which is rounding forward, there’s extension, which is arching back, there’s rotation to either side, and there’s lateral bending which is kind of a variation on rotation but I’m going to show you how to safely twist your spine when you’re going in to an extension based twist and how to safely twist your spine when you’re going into a flexion or forward based twist so stay tuned for that.To do a safe twist in a forward facing or flexion direction, what you’re gonna want to do is flex forward first and then rotate so I’m going to show you what happens if you were to rotate first and then flex… so I’m just gonna hold on here just so you can kind of see degrees of rotation… so if you were to rotate first this is about as far as I can rotate and then if I want to flex forward I get to right about there before I feel some binding and pinching through my right-sided low back. Now if I come back to this position and I flex forward first and then I take my rotation I can go a little bit further and it feels much smoother, I don’t feel any catching or binding in my back so it’s different for going into extension and I’m going to show you that next. If you want to do a twist into extension meaning your low back is going to arch back in this direction, as you twist you want to think about doing your twist first and and then adding your extension, so if I’m going to the other side we’re twisting and then extending and this is actually like a nice mobility exercise you just kind of get into the flow of twist extend come back through center, twist extend and come back to your center. If we were to do the opposite if we were to go into extension and then try to twist it doesn’t feel that great and you can actually see like I’m trying to twist as far as I can and you know I can probably like move my shoulders to get a bit more twist but my torso is not able to twist more because I’ve already maxed out the extension of my spine, so for extension rotate extend and back to center, so that’s how you safely do a twist into extension. I think a lot of the bad press about rotation and flexion meaning coming to this position and then you know you’re  putting your kid in your car seat and then they wiggle or kick and you fight that and oh my gosh all of a sudden your back is killing youI think that that is what gives us the bad rap like we don’t want to be holding load and then going into this position that does create a lot of pressure on the intervertebral discs in the low back, but unless you have certain very rare spinal conditions there’s nothing wrong with a bodyweight twist where you’re flexing and coming to one side it’s one of the motions your spine is designed todo and in my opinion if you don’t use your motion you lose it.”

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