Mobility For Athletes: The Benefits of a Spinal Twist

A strong and healthy spine is paramount to a healthy body and for a Olympic weightlifter, it's critical for stronger and more stable lifts. A number of nagging complaints can hinder performance including; lower back pain, instability, fatigue, and general stiffness. Any of these can lesson an athlete’s ability to stay braced when squatting, catching a Snatch, Clean, or while dipping and catching in a Jerk. Spinal health is to say the least, IMPORTANT. This week we shift our focus to twisting the spine using the Marichi’s Pose.

The Benefits

  1. Twists help to aid digestion. Twists can help move food in the right direction.
  2. Twists increase blood flow which increases circulation and increases cellular detoxification.
  3. Twists reduce back pain. By stretching your spine, you strengthen your back muscles and increase their flexibility, thus reducing pain and allowing for more stable lifts.

Setup Instructions and Cues

Shown in the video are two variations, one by wrapping your arm around your leg, and the other placing your elbow on top of the front of the knee. Use the latter to create a stronger, external lever and more intense stretch.

  • Come to the mat, seated with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right leg, bringing your foot to the inside of your left knee.
  • On the inhale, place your right hand behind you and wrap your arm around the knee while maintaining a straight spine, chest faced forward. AlternativeAs shown on the second twist, place your elbow just below the top of your knee.
  • BEFORE placing your hand down, on the exhale, begin to twist your torso toward your bent knee from deep within the belly.
  • When you have twisted as far as you can without using your hands, place your hand on the ground to deepen the twist. This is an example of an external lever.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 deep breaths.
  • Release on the exhale and repeat on the opposite side.

I would recommend that you include at least one twist in your warm up every day for a healthy and strong spine.

Sandra Arechaederra has actively practiced yoga for years but maintains a focus on its application for improving athletic performance. Sandra is an accomplished Olympic weightlifter in her own right, having medaled at the 2010 USA National Championship Meet, she continues her work with the California Strength weightlifting team on a weekly basis for mobility training and runs a mobility program implemented with the California Strength NFL Combine Prep Class every year. Sandra has her 200 RYT credential as a certified Yoga Teacher.

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