By Luca Williams
To be honest, I don’t get people’s love for spins, grabs and flips. But my kid does and I love my kid so I try to pay attention to his world of skiing, even though when he launches through the air at the speed of light I’m sitting there wondering about our insurance policy and how many broken bones it will cover.
Yes, I nag him to be careful. Yes, I begged him for years to quit trying to backflip off of every “perfect” rock or cliff. But I know passion when I see it, so now I just listen when people comment on how big he goes, even though I really want to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend it’s not my son that they’re talking about.
I have two skiing lectures for him: Your body is your temple, and you only have one, so take care of it. He ignores this one because he is 17 and 17-year-old boys know everything and they are invincible. The second lecture he listens to … sort of: If you are going to twist one way all the time, remember to twist the other way too.
When my son started to pay attention to me he noticed that he can spin to the left two-and-a-half times around but he can “only” spin to the right one-and-a-half times. He obviously favors spinning left. So the muscles of his shoulders, back and abdominals that help him spin left are becoming quite strong while the muscles on the right side of his back are over stretching with every left spin he engages in. Hearing that he spins so much easier to the left tells me that he is setting himself up for back pain in the future.
Repetitive twisting can begin to hurt whether you do it in the air or at a desk. Which way is easier for you to spin? Stand with your feet hip-width apart and twist to your right and left. Twist around to look at something behind you. Don’t force it! Notice your eyes, head, neck, shoulders, ribs, arms and your upper spine as you twist. Feel how your feet, knees and legs are also engaged in the act of twisting.
Just by doing that simple, small movement with awareness, your brain got curious. When we introduce movement with awareness, our brain gets excited and begins to make new connections. Having a habit of twisting one way more than the other is not bad. But it can get bad if it gets so ingrained that we become severely limited in twisting the other way. So here is a simple exercise to test and expand your twisting fitness that requires no force and 100 percent curiosity!
1. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, side bend to the right and to the left, allowing your fingers to slide along your leg. Which way is easier? Your fingers will get closer to your knees on the easier side. Side bend 10-15 times on each side.
2. This time when you side bend to the right allow your hips to shift left keeping your feet flat on the floor. Notice how you can side bend farther to the right when you allow your hips to shift left. Switch sides. Now side bend to the left, shifting your hips to the right. Side bend about 15 times on each side.
3. After you have finished side bending, take a moment to just stand there and sense the weight on your feet. Check in to how you feel. You may notice that you are more alert, your rib cage or feet may have more sensation, or you may even feel tired. Regardless, go back to twisting right and left and check how far you can twist. Is it easier? Can you feel how your turning angle has increased on both sides?
After many months or years, repetitive twisting in one direction will cause your back to start to hurt in some way. If you don’t want to take up these exercises for that reason, at least learn to go both ways to make yourself a more well-rounded trickster. x
Luca Williams is a certified rolfer in Glacier. She helps snowboarders, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts to get aligned and out of pain. Website: lucasrolfing.com Blog: movingwithgravity.wordpress.com