"Twist, Reach 'n Roll - Spinal Sequence" for Strength, Flexibility & Alignment looks a lot easier than it is - be extra careful to follow form to the finest detail. This type of movement is considered to be comprehensive and compounded since it involves several muscles as well as anatomical isolation of the lower body from the upper body.
Starting Position: Feet should be 12"-14" apart (under hips) for correct anatomical alignment. Knees stay bent pushing out towards the little toe at all times. Keep forearms and elbows shoulder high. Head should follow upper body movement (look back on twist). Keep fanny tucked during twist. Form check: bend knees DEEP to end of toes to enable a better fanny tuck and to establish stronger isolation of lower body.
Starting stretch: Begin with position as demonstrated in count 4. Place hands on side of leg by calf/knee. Push against leg as you inhale deep to stretch the spine then relax pressure as you exhale deep (keep spine in torque position). Repeat inhale/exhale. Roll up as explained in counts 5-6-7-8. Repeat other side.
|Counts 1-2 One and half twist to right (count 1 is full twist and count 2 is half twist - ie: don't return all the way forward) Form Check: as you twist to right, concentrate to tighten left bent knee and thigh so left knee doesn't move inward. You twist as far back as you can, but the object is to keep both knees bent and facing forward - goal is to isolate lower body from upper body. Don't shift weight - keep hips equal and forward, just twist the spine.||
|Count 3 Full twist all the way to the left where shoulders are square to the side wall. Form check: Note how I have the right knee pushing out and aiming towards the little toe - almost to the point that I look bowlegged. This is for correct anatomical alignment/isolation and sciatica neuro-kinetic transmission. It takes strength to push the knee out that far - just push as much as you can. The strength will come, be sure to keep knees bent equally and facing forward.|
|Count 4 Keeping knees bent, reach down the side of left leg aiming behind left knee with left hand. I hold onto right hand and "pulling" it behind the left knee. I hold onto the first 3 fingers "pulling" down as well as back. This is to help pull right shoulder back - which helps to "square" the shoulders to side wall & get optimal torque of spine. Continue to "pull" as you reach down and as you "roll" up. Form Check: head should be down with neck relaxed. Push out the right knee towards little toe as you reach down. Note: this is very difficult to do but not impossible - spinal flexibility and strength will come with practice. Note how I have the right knee pushing out and aiming to the little toe. |
Count 5-6-7-8 Keeping head down, "roll" up one vertebrae at a time in spinal twist position (facing side wall). As you "roll" up your upper body should face side wall by end of count 8. Most beginners don't have the spinal strength to hold full twist to left wall and end up rotating to the front by count 8. Form check: as you "roll" up be sure to push out the right knee. Do not lean or shift weight into right hip. |
Repeat for a total of 8 sets, then repeat entire sequence twisting to the left and reaching behind the right knee for a total of 8 sets. Form check: be sure to push left knee out to little toe as you reach down behind the right knee and again as you "roll" back up. Note: short torso and combo body types should only reach to the knee or just below the knee (not the ankle!).
This movement has been used by many competitive "equestrian jumpers" to keep their chiropractic alignments set and to help prevent injury to their lower spine from impact of landing the jump. It is very therapeutic for sciatica sufferers and all of us who wear high heels. As an added bonus, it will also make your waist smaller and tummy tighter!