I attended a conference earlier this year and was told in one of the seminars that rotational movements (exercises) involving the spine were no longer considered contraindicated. Is this true or just in specific applications? Could you give me some guidelines for the when and how of rotational training?
Rotation is life! To answer your question...YES! Rotation should take place in all programs. In fact, if we don't teach our clients to rotate properly, they're susceptible to injury! However, we must understand rotation is NOT an isolated event. In fact, it is a complex interaction of all components of the kinetic chain. In simple terms, rotation starts the minute your foot hits the ground. Consider PROPER walking. As your right foot swings forward and contacts the ground, your heel everts, talus rotates down and inward followed by rotation of your tibia then femur to properly stretch your big rotation muscle (i.e., Mr. Glute). In addition, your pelvis on the right is moving towards the left (right leg forward example), and your thoracic spine is rotating to the right while your cervical spine is rotating to the left (although it appears to be straight). Therefore, simple walking is rotation. This is why our largest muscles in the body exhibit an oblique arrangement.
So, our recommendation is to sift through the PTN Exercise Library and integrate rotational exercises your client can safely perform. Things to watch for include:
- Segmentation of movement (choppy movement). Choppy movement should be avoided so excessive stress is not experienced.
- Poor flexibility in one or more segments of the rotation chain.
- Poor coordination.
- Excessive extremity movement and minimal core movement.
- Poor deceleration due to improper load application (free weights add an inertial factor to rotation that is hard for beginners to control, therefore try tubing).
- Start rotation from a neutral position as opposed to being too far into the joint range of motion. For example, if you forward flex your spine try to rotate... now place your spine neutral and rotate.
- You will notice a greater range of motion when you start from neutral. Movements to avoid include isolated rotation (the spine is NOT designed to rotate in isolation).
In closing, you have come to the right site for rotational training! Many of the experts on this site speak about the importance of functional rotation. Apply the information in this article, do your research, and most importantly, be safe and have fun!