Whatever the name of your game is, chances are at some point you’re going to want some power.  Power to drive your legs forward in the marathon.  Power to pitch the ball, deliver a formidable tennis serve or swing the club with control and force.

If you play golf or tennis, keep in mind that the Method develops skills and benefits that sharpen your game:

  • Maximize balance and alignment while rotating

  • Greater range of motion in shoulders for optimal back swing and follow-through

  • Increase hip turn for greater power through rotation

  • Balanced conditioning of front and back muscles to create a naturally powerful and smooth swing.

  • More distance and power because of added hip and torso flexibility

  • Experience less fatigue because of less overall strain on the body

Pilates core exercises are often associated with flexion.  In particular the Ab Series usually comes to mind.  And it should definitely be a part of your program as you train for your favorite sport.  Keep in mind Pilates is also awesome as an active recovery workout for your alternate days.

As upright beings, winding up to store energy and then releasing it with power and control comes from flexibility in the major joints of the torso, as well as the simple beauty of a twist.  Runners or any athletes such as those who play basketball, football and soccer, want that core stability yet freedom in the pelvis, spine and shoulders.

RubberbandPoweredAirplane-croppedwithcaption-smA particular Pilates exercise that is excellent for training strength and flexibility in rotation is, not too surprisingly called Spine Twist.  The spinal twist is actually a Pilates Fundamental, but not be fooled – this exercise is actually harder to execute well than it appears at a glance.  So, like the song says, “C’mon baby, let’s do the Twist!”

Start seated on your mat with your legs together out in front of you.  If you have tight hamstrings, feel free to bend your knees.

Be sure to keep your weight even on both sitz bones throughout the twisting – pay special attention to this because as you move, it’s pretty common to either shift off of one hip or to actually end up twisting the hips when the intention is for them to remain stable.

  • Square your shoulders and reach your arms out to the side like “T” .  Imagine trying to reach to the walls of the room.  Make sure you can see your fingertips in peripheral vision.  C:\Backup\Pictures-Video-Audio\EmbodyMovementPilatesStudio\Photos-MatExercises\SpineTwist\CIMG3212_SpineTwistBack-cropped.jpg

  • Sit tall out of your waist gazing straight ahead, and activate your mid-back muscles, to keep the chest lifted. Inhale.

  • Exhale as you rotate your spine on your central axis to perform 3 gentle pulses to twist to the right.

  • Inhale as you return to the start position.

  • Exhale and repeat 3 gentle pulses twisting to the left.

  • 6-8 repetitions (each side).

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Some cautions to look out for when executing the Spine Twist:

  • Avoid leaning backward, or to one side

  • Do your best to keep your legs together, but if that is difficult, use a ball, yoga block or towel to gently squeeze the legs to the center.

  • Watch out for flexing in the upper body (it might feel like you are “crumpling” rather than sitting all once you start to turn)

  • Jutting the head forward or dropping it down

  • shoulders rising up by your ears

If you find any of these compensatory patterns are happening, go for a lesser range of twisting to start, until you improve your flexibility with further practice.  Better to work on quality movement in a range you can control than to gun for greater range with poor form.

Perform this with a smile to make it a Happy Twist!  Why?  Because your Pilates practice will be propelling you to a more powerful rotation.  And, because in the long run, your spine will thank you for keeping it able and agile for both recreation and everyday living activities.

 “C’mon baby, let’s do the Twist!”

See you in the studio!

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