Foundational Movement Series: TWISTING / ROTATING

Posted by Jane Diack on

This week we explore the fifth foundational movement in the series, Twisting/Rotating

Rotation is the key for proper efficient human movement. This is your ability to twist in your core, from your pelvis to your ribcage. Whether you are rotating your torso during walking, running or simply raising your arms. There are no straight lines in the human body. All  the joints of the body articulate with some degree of rotation and your muscles are designed in a spiral/diagonal fashion.

Most fitness programs whether on land or in the water emphasize the same basic movement patterns such as pushing and pulling but there is little focus on rotary movements.

Teaching rotary movements are much more difficult than most exercises because of all the components needed for proper execution. The trainer has to watch out that the client is not really twisting/torquing their lumbar spine during rotational exercises. This is how injuries can occur, even in the water.

The thoracic spine, not the lumbar spine should be the site of greatest amount of rotation. When teaching rotational exercises the client should be cued that the movement should be occurring more from the chest area.The core must be held in a good amount of stiffness and a fair amount of motion will occur in the hips.

Common compensations are reduced range of motion and the inability of the client to incorporate their legs and core into the rotary motion. Watch for one or both shoulders to hike during movement instead of properly stabilizing. Watch for the dominant side being much stronger and easier. Lastly, watch for forward posture and rounded shoulders.

In my experience it will take a few sessions before the client is able to get the correct pattern before increasing the amount of intensity.

Remember Pattern and Posture Before Intensity.

Barbell Kayak Pulls


In open stance position with knees slightly bent holding barbell with wide grip. Dig bar bell through water bring past hip and then bring barbell into a high position and dig and pull barbell towards opposite side simulating kayak paddling motion.


  • Keep Core/Buttocks Tight
  • Dig and Pull Barbell Movement Primarily from Chest and Legs
  • Don’t Twist Low Back

Possible Compensations:

  • Decreased Stabilization/Alignment
  • Upper Body Compensation
  • Forward Posture
  • Twisting from Lumbar Spine

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