“Twisting exercises facilitate improved flexion and extension of the spine.”Don’t know why I never realized that little gem on my own, but how true it is. Think about getting water out of a wet washcloth. We don’t just fold it over to get the water out. No, we twist it, then bend it to maximize wringing the water out. And if you think about it, that’s exactly what we’re doing in the Criss-Cross and Saw exercises during Pilates Matwork! Not every spine rotation exercise needs to twist AND bend for maximum benefits. It’s important to learn how to just do good twisting first to get the whole back involved in the movement. Twisting exercises where the spine stays in a tall, neutral position are the best exercises to start with. My favorite preparatory exercises for improving spine rotation in a lying down position are:
My favorite seated twisting exercise is:
- 2 Knee Drop
To improve spine rotation during Pilates Matwork:
- Simple Twist
And for practicing twisting on the Pilates Equipment:
- Saw (both the rounding and hinging versions)
- Twist II
While there are other great twisting exercises in the Pilates repertoire of exercises, and other great non-Pilates exercises you can do to improve your rotation. These tend to be the one’s that I gravitate to the most when incorporating more rotation into my Pilates exercise programs. And as I look at the twisting exercises on my list, I’m realizing that not only do they all rotate the spine, but the exercises I have picked are a combination of passive and active movement choices.
- Stomach Massage Twist
- Short Box Twist
- Chair – Footwork w/Simple Twist
- 1-Arm Washer-Woman w/Spiral Twist
- Chair – Teaser w/Twist
- Cadillac – The Saw
- Cadillac – The Circular Saw/Swan-Lake Saw
- Cadillac – Mermaid w/Twist
- Spine Corrector
- The prep exercises are all passive, which means the weight of the legs (or arms) moving through space is what facilitates the rotation of the spine.
- The seated twist is an active spine twisting exercise, the oblique muscles and spine rotators are working to rotate the torso.
- The Pilates Matwork exercises are a combination of active and passive movements. (Corkscrew and Can-Can are passive, and the rest are active rotation exercises.)
- And on the Pilates equipment exercise list, most of the exercises are active rotation.