Learn To Own Rotation For A Healthy Spine

The number one complaint in the pain world is that of the lower back. Your lower back is the centre of it all, it is a pivot point for movement, connecting one shoulder to the other, allowing your upper body to interact with your lower body all the while supporting the rest of the spine above it and being distorted, extended, flexed and rotated by the structures below. Yes sir it is a big deal!

A lot of movement based lower back problems are due to an individual’s inability to control rotation efficiently throughout their spine (transverse plane motion). You are designed to rotate; you are most powerful in motions involving rotation. Think of anything that involves creating maximal force in order to propel an object; javelin, discuss, golf, tennis. Anyone at the top of their game in any of the previous (and many, many other sports and activities) will have tremendous control over rotational movements.

Why do you lose the ability to rotate through your spine?

Past traumas & lifestyle factors are the two main contributing factors to a movement based spinal rotational issue. Our lifestyle is geared toward compression and poor repetitive motions, even our gym based workouts are set up for strength in compressed states. Loaded squats & deadlifts place a lot of strain through already overloaded spines and hips. Whilst wonderful movements when done well and a long side rotation based exercises, they’re all too often done poorly and a long side an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.

Do you have a rotational issue?

Stand in front of a mirror, shoes and socks off with feet together, aligned. Cross your arms so each hand is on the opposite shoulder. Imagine there is a piece of string central through the top of your head, splitting your pelvis in two and ending between your heels. Rotate left to right around this piece of imaginary string, holding when you get as far round as you can. You should be able to achieve 90 degrees of rotation minimum throughout your whole body, 45 degrees coming from your lower body and 45 through the upper body. Can you complete this movement pain free with no limitations in range of motion with equal rotation coming from upper and lower body? If so, congratulations you do not have a rotational issue!!! If not, I’ve got you covered in the paragraph below. 

What can be done to improve your spinal rotational capabilities?

This depends where your spinal rotational restriction is coming from. Seemingly unrelated impairments in certain areas can be contributing to rotational deficits in the spine, this is something known as regional interdependence. Often history of foot, hip or neck traumas can result in rotational restrictions, something which can be evaluated and corrected effectively using the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), something which I shall write further about in future blogs.

However if you failed the above test you may have a true spinal mobility restriction in rotation, in which case the following exercise progressions could be very useful to improving your movement and spinal health – Spinal Mobility Progressions

Phil was someone who had a spinal rotational issue and was struggling with many other movement restrictions, using the regional interdependence model he was able to improve his spinal ailment dramatically.

If you feel your spinal rotation is limiting your movement potential and the exercise doesn’t help please give me a call.

Best wishes,


Call – 07745 039 485

Email – Ben@BenFedrickInjuryTherapy.co.uk

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