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By Bruce Burke and Ryan Burke

Last Updated: 5/21/23

Consider how often your body rotates throughout the day. Activities like picking up a dropped set of keys, reaching into the dryer, or opening a heavy door all require rotation. Knowing how to rotate properly is critical to ensuring healthy, effective movement both in and out of the gym.

Why is rotation important?

Virtually every joint in our body has the ability to rotate, and nearly every movement we perform requires some degree of rotation or anti-rotation. Unfortunately, excessive rotation, or the inability to stabilize a joint from rotating, significantly increases our risk of injury.

We often see excessive rotation in the lower back. In fact, one of the most common causes of lower back injury is repeated flexion and rotation. There are many reasons why the lumbar spine moves more than it should including poor thoracic (mid-back) mobility, poor hip/ankle mobility, and most commonly poor core stability.

Ensuring safe rotation.

The bottom line is that we must be mindful of how we rotate. Even the most mundane tasks involve rotation and must be done properly. Adhere to the following guidelines to ensure you are rotating safely:

  • Maintain “I” alignment by consciously engaging your core. In every movement, make sure your hips and shoulders move together. This will decrease lumbar rotation and encourage movement in your ankles, knees, and hips. This is especially important when raising and lowering your torso (for example when you lift something from the ground).
  • Keep movement/rotation to about 45 degrees away from your midline. If you desire to rotate more, use a pivot technique to free up your hips and ensure the lumbar spine stays neutral.
  • While exercising, remember your endpoints. Do not allow yourself to rotate or drift through them, which can result in injury.

For this week and moving forward, maintain your active lifestyle for the long haul by focusing on proper trunk rotation.  Be sure to talk with your trainer about strategies to improve your ability to rotate. You will be glad you did!