Spinal Rotation in Heel Sitting

Stephen Holt, Timonium personal trainer

Millions of readers of national fitness magazines including Shape, Women's Health, Fitness. Woman's Day, Family Circle, Runner's World, (and many others) have made their exercise programs both more effective AND more efficient with fitness and nutrition advice from "America's Baby Boomer Expert," Stephen Holt.

You know I became well-known in the industry for my 3-4-5 Total Body Fitness System, but you may not know about the “Bonus 6” I later added to the program.

One of Bonus 6 is Thoracic (or mid-back) mobility. [We’ll address the other 5 of the 6 in the near future.]

Thoracic mobility is vital for shoulder (hence elbow and even wrist) health. When your mid-back doesn’t move well, other joints can become overloaded.

[We call this “bottom-up dependency.”]​​

Thoracic mobility is even important for low back and hip health for the same reason.
​​[Yep, “top-down dependency.”]​​ ​

​​​​Virtually everyone over 40 needs to increase their thoracic mobility. That’s why virtually all of our clients do this as part of their dynamic warm-up.

Personally, I do this before even my most time-constrained workouts.​​

Here’s How You Do It

From the All-Fours position, sit back on (or at least “toward”) your heels. That’s the “Heel Sitting” part. Got it?

Sitting back on your heels helps anchor your pelvis so the rotation part of this movement comes from your mid-back (good) and not your lower back (bad).

As a bonus, we ask our clients to tuck their toes under. This gives them a bonus stretch for their toes and feet and may help them avoid plantar fasciitis.

Gently place your hand behind your head. (Behind your neck is even better if you have the shoulder mobility.)

Keeping your hips down and back toward your heels, slowly and gently rotate your upper body. Be sure to rotate at your spine. The tendency, especially if you REALLY need this exercise, is to shift your weight toward the arm you’re leaning on. That’s cheating! Cut it out.

We generally do this 3-5 times on each side. If you notice a difference from one side to another, be sure to start on your “good” side and do more reps on your “not as good” side.

Starting on the “good” side gives your brain a goal and a guide to improve your “not as good” side.


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