If you play golf, tennis, or another rotational sport, you’re probably loving all
the opportunities summer provides to play your sport.
Yet, you may also be noticing imbalances as a result of working one side of
the body more (and in different ways) from the other.
Keeping both sides of the body strong, flexible, and in balance is crucial in
rotational sports. And that’s why rotational strength training should be a
regular part of your exercise regimen.
What Does Rotational Strength Training Look Like?
As the name implies, rotational sports require rotational movement (duh).
But that movement needs to originate from a stable core. Plus, hip
extension is the source through which force is generated and then
transferred. As such, rotational strength training focuses on exercises in the
transverse plane .
What does that mean exactly?
Imagine a horizontal plane that cuts directly through your waistline to
separate the upper and lower body. Then visualize a vertical line that cuts
directly down the center of the body from the top of the head. This line is
the axis upon which your head and spine rotate.
The movement of twisting the spine left to right here happens in the
transverse plane. Another example of movement in this plane is when you
hold out your arms at a 90 degree angle and then move them toward or
away from the middle of the your body.
The Benefits of Working in the Transverse Plane
As mentioned above, all movement originates in the core. It is your base of
support and stability. The core isn’t made up of just the abs, as many
people think. The muscles of the entire trunk and the hips also make up the
Rotational exercises target these muscles and move in the transverse
plane. Along with strength, some of the key benefits of working in the
transverse plane include increasing core stability, balance, and
If you’re an avid golfer, tennis player, or athlete in another rotational sport
and you’re not taking advantage of rotational strength training, you could
begin to experience imbalances that could negatively affect your core
strength, hip mobility, lower back health, and ability to speed and
accelerate. All of this leads to decreased performance and an increased
risk of injury.
How Can Pilates Help?
Similar to the misconception that the core is just the abs, many people think
that Pilates works only the abs. But it works the entire core. And rotation is
a very key part of Pilates work. The system recognizes the importance of
the deep muscles that hug and support the spine.
Furthermore, the exercises work from essential fundamentals that include
proper posture, attention to breath, and shoulder placement.
These are essential because, first, proper posture allows you to accurately
find center so that you can safely rotate the spine around its central axis.
Second, the breath helps to ignite the core structures and create more
space around the spine to lengthen it as you move into rotation. Finally, the
shoulder blades must be ideally placed in order to glide along the back of
the ribcage in rotation.
How Is Your Spinal Rotation?
Many people wait until they notice a major imbalance in their spinal rotation
before addressing it. But you can test your spinal rotation now to see if you
may be already be a little off center.
Start by lying on a mat on the floor. Bend your knees to place your feet flat
on the floor. Let the feet be somewhat away from your body. Slowly begin
to let both legs fall to the right. Then bring them up and take them to left.
On each side, notice whether your your legs touch the floor without the
opposite shoulder rolling off the mat. If your shoulder is lifting, that’s an
indication that your spine is not optimally rotating.
What happens over time is that you will begin to compensate by using the
hips and shoulders to achieve the rotation. And they’re not created for this
Along with the attention given to rotation in the overall Pilates practice,
there are also pre-Pilates exercises that will help you build rotational
strength and flexibility. Once you learn these movements, you can practice
them at home every day to keep your spine rotating in the healthiest way
Discover How Pilates Can Bring You Back Into Balance
A well-planned Pilates routine will not only involve rotational strength
training, but it will teach you how to safely guide the spine through flexion,
extension and lateral flexion as well.
These are all necessary movements for a healthy spine.
There’s still time for your favorite rotational activities. So show them what you’ve got on the court or
course! Contact us today to see how Pilates can help you do that in the
safest way possible.