Completing the Twist Stretch

Several months ago, you probably remember that I wrote an article on the twist stretch. In that article, I gave the first couple of steps of this stretch, and what you would gain from going through this progression (a vastly increased amount of flexibility of your arms, shoulders, hips, and back, as well as an opportunity to move your torso in a twisting position, which most standard workout plans don’t even begin to do.

And now that that has been discussed, we can discuss finishing the twist stretch with the last two steps.

The Assisted Twist Stretch

To do this one, take the twist stretch position that you should have already learned: begin by sitting on the floor with your legs fully extended. Put one foot over and on the opposite side of the other knee—ie:  put the left foot on the right side of the right knee, and vice versa. Then bring the other foot back and make it touch your ass.

Now, take a long malleable object, such as a towel, a belt, a scarf, or any flexible object that is sufficiently long enough, and grab it in the arm that is going to be stretched—recall that if you have your left leg up and your left foot flat on the floor, you will be twisting your body in a way that your right arm is extended on the left side of your left knee.

In the arm, grasp the end of that belt or towel. Loop the other end of that object through the “hole” in the leg and  around the back. Grab that end with your other hand that is placed around your back.

Now, try to make your fingers meet! You can start with the towel, but eventually you have to do it without any assistance. If that sounds nigh-impossible, that’s because it basically is. At the very least, it is extremely difficult.

I find that holding on to the “Front” end tight, and kind of pulling the arm through the “Grapevine” with the back arm helps to give you a little extra stretch. With the back arm, work your fingers up the belt or rope, inch by inch

Slowly, bit by bit, you will manage to just barely get the tips of your fingers to touch! And once you achieve that, you can try to interlock your fingers, or grasp them in the fingertip to fingertip “monkey grip”.

The True Twist Stretch

Now that you’ve achieved that, you can try to do the same, but without the aid of the cloth or belt or rope. Just wrap your arms around your leg and torso and try to connect the fingers yet again. And once you manage that, you can increase the stretch even further by grasping your thumbs, your wrist, or even, perhaps, even further up the forearm!

I cannot even begin to guess how long it would take for you to grab your wrist in this exercise—it took me almost a year to be capable of just interlocking fingers. Like most flexibility exercises, training the twist stretch is a long, grueling, and arduous practice, but the benefits are more than worth it.

Why yes I have moved to a new home

The Benefits

As I said before, these sorts of “lateral chain” workouts are not often seen in the modern gym, and doing so will give you the physical edge above your average curlbro. For starters, loosening up and strengthening the obliques, lower back muscles, and hip flexors will aid all of the athletic movements that originate from the core—which is to say, all athletic movements, period.  It’s scarcely an exaggeration to say that any physical activity you do, be it lifting, running, jumping, kicking, punching, or anything else, can only be enhanced by developing your lateral chain and the lumbo-pelvic-hip-complex.

If that weren’t enough, the added torso flexibility you’ll gain from this exercise can have some direct applications as well—namely, having a high degree of upper body flexibility can greatly enhance your ability to get out of submission holds or other bad situations associated with interpersonal grappling. Why else do you think high-level wrestlers and MMA fighters extensively practice this maneuver (see the page image)?

So in conclusion, whether or not you plan to get into hand to hand combat at some point in the future, the twist stretch is absolutely a maneuver worth learning.