The Twist Movement Pattern
Most movement patterns are completed in one or two directions of movement. The push, pull, squat, lunge and hinge are typically performed by moving front to back, up to down or side to side. There is a third way to move that makes exercise even more functional or more like the movements we make in everyday life – the twist movement.
If you think about lunging down and reaching across your body, or throwing a ball, running, or even walking, most human movement has some element of a rotation involved. The problem, however, is that most exercises we do in the gym do not have a rotational component.
Adding twisting movements to your exercise program will help improve overall body strength, power, mobility and core strength.
There are two primary types of twisting, or rotational movements: (1) rotational and (2) anti-rotational. Rotational movements are basic twisting exercises like woodchops, Medicine ball throws while standing sideways to a wall, and hip twists. Anti-rotation movements are exercises where we use our core muscles to resist or stop the body from rotating. Single arm exercises almost always have an anti-rotational component. Single arm farmer carries, single arm dumbbell bench presses and resisted band twists are examples of anti-rotation exercises.
Twisting movements that are not performed properly can actually hurt your lower back. The lower back has a limited capacity to rotate. The spine is designed to have more ability to rotate or twist in the upper spine than in the lower spine. Twisting exercises should be performed by bracing the abdominal muscles and twisting from the upper back. Focusing on moving the upper back is safer and will help you avoid injuring your lower back.
If you are not using the twist movement pattern in your exercise program, start with a basic standing twist movement like the sideways Medicine Ball throw to a wall or a standing band twist before progressing to more advanced movements like the Russian twist.