fitness · injury

On the therapeutic value of doing the twist(s)

Last week, I tweaked my lower back. Or hip. Or something. The main thing I know is that I felt extremely ouchy when trying to walk or sit down or get up from sitting down. How did this happen? Who knows? I was busy living life while being 58, and it happened. Or course this can happen at 22 or 72 or never, so we’re really back to who knows…

I responded in the usual ways: rest, heat (I prefer heat to cold in these case, but YMMV), and anti-inflammatories (again, YMMV). In addition, I spent time on the internet looking up stretches and other exercises for sciatica or piriformis or lower back pain. I know, I know– this wasn’t an advanced search based on expert advice. But I’ve done enough tweaking and wrenching with accompanying physical therapy to feel like I can at least get started on some gentle movements and see if I need more qualified adult supervision in order to feel better.

And guess what?

It’s working!

In particular, the exercises that involve twisting are helping a lot. Most of the ones I’ve been doing are related to yin yoga poses. And they feel soooo gooood. Here are a few I’ve been loving this week.

The twist comes in so many luscious variations. Here are some more:

In addition to going side-to-side, I’ve been bending back and forward some, too (when it feels good).

Gently stretching the back muscles with sphinx pose, or more deeply with seal.
Gently stretching the back muscles with sphinx pose, or more deeply with seal.

This isn’t technically a twist, but it does involve bending and stretching, so I put it in here. On the same principle, I also mention the following two stretches, one of which is a bit twisty:

Two seated forward bends: the side body one feels great and can be turned into a twist by, well, twisting. The forward one is non-twisty.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add these two classic twisting poses that I do very often: seated spinal twist and figure four (which can be done on the back or seated or standing).

Doing these twists in gentle ways this week is making my back/hips/glutes/self feel very good. So I thought I’d share the yumminess of good feeling with all you good people out there.

Do you like twisting exercises or stretches? Do they give you joy? Do they give you a pain in the neck or back or shoulders? What do you do when you’ve gotten really ouchy? I’d welcome any tips.

6 thoughts on “On the therapeutic value of doing the twist(s)

  1. I LOVE doing twisty poses, especially that supine twist.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been hurting.

    I find that the frustration of having to think about *how* to move compounds any pain I feel when I tweak my back/hip.

    The only other thing I do beyond what you are doing is to lie on a little spiky ball to get the muscles to relax. (I use Dr. Cohen’s acu-ball – the ‘spikes’ are flat not pointy.) it helps me but, as you said in your post, YMMV.

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    1. Thanks, Christine. Too much sitting and not enough regular sustained movement has me creaky and cranky. But twisting is good for what ails… me. Glad you like it too. I’ll check out the acu-ball. I have a woolen ball for my feet (got it in a foot yoga workshop), so maybe this one will work for my back. Thanks!

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  2. I do a variation of supine twist and seated spinal twist where the latter …I learned at a cycling pre-exercise workshop. Whenever I get a dull lower backache..it’s a sign I have not been doing my stretching exercises.

    I also do a twisting-stretching exercise that is tai chi based warm-up. It has some name related to an animal. I’ve never been able to find the name/maneouvre online. I learned it 30 yrs. ago when I took a tai chi course. This video at 12:50 onward has some stretching. Actually the whole video shows gentle, strong power of stretching and …balance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV-rZsddrp8 Can hear alot of birds in that garden.

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    1. Hi Jean– thanks for posting the video. I’ve done that particular exercise in Qigong classes (which I haven’t done since the pandemic, also a thing to renew when I can). I’ll try the whole video today!

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  3. I tweak my hip/lower back on the regular when I’m not judicious enough about doing these – ideally daily! So good especially in these pandemic days of not moving enough.

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