A-Z of Pilates - S for Spine Twist

The ability to move our spines freely in all directions is ever more important as we get older and, aside from developing that all important core strength, this is what Pilates exercise helps us to do so well. So many of us find that we become stiff and not so flexible in the spine as time goes on and in particular, our ability to rotate the spine becomes more difficult. We may be comfortable bending down, or reaching up, but often when we go to turn around we may find that our spine is less mobile, e.g. the simple task of turning around in the car to reverse it into a parking space may not seem as easy as it used to be. Now we could argue that cars are being made these days with a host of wonderful technology that helps us to see what is behind us without actually moving (the parking camera?), but I personally believe in that old saying.... if we don't use it, we will lose it!


So, going back to Pilates, I tend to plan my classes so that I include exercises that move the spine in all directions, for example, flexion, extension, lateral flexion as well as the much-needed rotation. Actually, I will often have a particular focus on rotation, as not only does it help us enormously in every day life, it also makes it easier to execute and benefit from the other types of exercises that I may include in my class. 


One of my favourite exercises for rotating the spine is called the Spine Twist. I like it because even in its most simple of forms it is hugely beneficial, but it can also be progressed and varied to add in a little bit of an extra challenge or, as I like to think of it, an extra bit of ‘magic’. 


I have given some instructions for practicing a simple version of the Spine Twist exercise below, as well as including a little video clip at the end of the instructions, taken in my little studio today. I have to say that this was actually my first attempt at trying to get to grips with my DJI GO recording tripod gadget and yes.... I do hear you..... I very much intend on improving my technical/gaget skills in the not too distant future!


Anyway, that aside, you will see from my video that I am executing the exercise sitting on the floor (which is the same as in the instructions), but this exercise can also be practised sitting on a dining chair, stool or gym ball, as the same principles apply. 


Spine Twist Exercise:
  • Sit on the floor with crossed legs. If this is not comfortable try sitting on a small block or cushion and/or adjust your leg position.
  • Cross the arms in front of you in a Cossack style position
  • Inhale to prepare and on exhale lengthen up through the body whilst rotating the spine to the right in one piece from waist upwards. Inhale again and on exhale lengthen upwards and rotate back to the front. Repeat to each side alternately for 6 /8/10 repetitions.
  • Make sure that you keep lifted through the spine and your abdominals throughout, and keep your weight evenly distributed between both ‘sit bones’.
  • Your gaze should follow the horizon with your chin in its natural position, and your neck should be in line with your spine so that your chin does not poke forward. You are aiming to move the upper body in one unit. 


PS. When having a watch of my video, see if you notice that I slightly adjust my position to correct the line of my neck and drop my shoulders down a little.


Spine Twist Rotation video - just click on the photo below:

 Spine Twist


 “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old.  If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” Joseph Pilates



This entry was posted on November 14, 2018