Twisting movements are a way to engage the core muscles by utilizing rotational forces in the horizontal plane, but they can also improve coordination and integration of movement systems. While twists are not for everyone, they can be a great option for many fitness enthusiasts. If you aren’t already using them, consider adding a few twists to your training sessions.
Pros to Twists
• Twisting exercises strengthen the core using rectus abdominus muscles and obliques in many of the exercises.
• Aside from strength-building, twists improve digestion in some exercisers and yogis by increasing blood flow to the abdominal area.
• By executing twisting stretches, flexibility improves.
• Certain twisting positions also develop stability and balance.
• Adding a twist to a regular exercise stiulates the brain to re-think the exercise.
Of course, there can be drawbacks. Twists can put excess pressure on the lumbar spine, especially individuals who have weak abdominal muscles or preexisting conditions. Those who have difficulty balancing, might not be able to follow through on some of the exercises.
• Bicycle crunches are a familiar twisting exercise.
• Plank alternating hip twists with each hip touching the ground.
• Cross body kettlebell chops
• Kettlebell windmills elevate the old school windmill taking it to a new level.
• Mason/Russian twists with a medicine ball use balance and strength.
Twists held for 30 seconds or longer can improve circulation and flexibility. Dynamic moving stretches can improve mobilityGive these a try:
• Sit with one leg bent and crossed over the other and allow upper body to turn into the twist. Hold, then switch sides sides.
• Lie on the back with arms outstretched; let bent legs fall to one side and hold, then alternate to the other side.
• Using a weighted bar, prop the bar across the shoulders with arms stretched out to the sides holding the ends of the bar. Twist from side to side. Try lowering one side at a time while twisting. This is a favorite of mine at the end of a workout.
• A yoga eagle-arms pose is an excellent way to stretch and engage shoulders. Wrapping arms in front of body, one elbow goes under the other with hands clasped (Ideally—sometimes they don’t actually meet when shoulders are especially tight). Lift up for a deeper stretch. Repeat with the other elbow underneath.
Once you incorporate twists, you will notice other ways to add them to your own routine. I adjusted my forward lunges by holding dumbbells in a goddess yoga pose twisting slowly to each side. It helps with balance, strength, flexibility, and becomes meditative as I concentrate on form. Plus, it adds something creative to my ordinary lunges.
Being creative and changing the way we do things is part of the process. Variety is the spice to exercise!