Emma Obayuvana doing a seated spinal twist

Move of the week: seated spinal twists that improve digestion and mobility

Posted by for Workouts

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: seated spinal twists. 

Our spines can move in four ways: forwards, backwards, side-to-side and through rotation. Most everyday movements and exercises we perform in our workouts nail the first three directions, but the latter is often neglected. That’s probably why it feels so good when you give yourself a big twisty stretch, whether in a yoga class or by wrapping around your desk chair after a poor posture day.  

But rotating through the spine requires so much more than just flopping into postures. In order to reap all the benefits and get that ‘ahh’ feeling, you need to execute your stretches with proper technique. So, here’s how to pull off the seated spinal twist – one of the simplest releases there is. 

What is a seated spinal twist?

The seated spinal stretch involves stabilising through your arms and legs to twist through the spine. 

The exercise is great because:

It stretches the muscles in your core: it works into the upper and lower muscles of your body that are commonly stiff and sore. 

It can ease digestion and cramps: by twisting through your centre, you can help ‘massage’ your digestive and reproductive organs to aid processes. 

Improves spinal mobility: your spine is involved in pretty much every movement you make, so keeping it mobile is essential. 

What muscles do seated spinal twists work?

A seated spinal twist primarily targets mid-section of the body, including:

  • Glutes 
  • Hips
  • Abdominals
  • Obliques 
  • Lower back 
  • Mid back
  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Neck

How to do a seated spinal twist

  1. Sit on the floor and cross your right leg over your left. Keep your left leg on the floor, bending your knee so your heel is tucked close to your right glute. Place your right foot on the floor with the toes in line with your left knee. 
  2. Lift up through the crown of your head so your spine is long.
  3. Bring your left arm across your body and, if you can, wrap your elbow on the outside of your right knee. Let your right arm extend out behind you
  4. Squeeze the knee into your body and hold. Repeat on the other side. 

Images: Stylist

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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