Physical Therapy in the Real World: Why Twisting Isn't Bad for your Back
Updated: Aug 20
Are you terrified of the thought of twisting through your back? Maybe you’ve seen one of the thousands of Instagram posts that tell you how bad twisting is for your back. We’re here to give you a different message that, as you’ll see, is a much more positive way of thinking about your back and also is more about how your back works in the real world.
The idea behind avoiding twisting is meant from a good place. In theory, twisting places stress on your back so you’re told don’t twist so your back is “saved”. There’s a problem with this for a few reasons. Most importantly, your back is actually really strong and designed to twist. There’s also nothing wrong with putting stress through your body, it’s how you get stronger and how you heal! Lastly, it’s not realistic to avoid twisting for the rest of your life so avoiding twisting just sets you up for problems later. If you’re having pain with twisting currently, the answer isn’t to avoid it for the rest of your life. The answer is how can you get better so you can get back to living life without avoiding every movement?
Like we mentioned before, most importantly, your back is strong and designed to twist. Think about all the important things your back is designed to protect. Your spinal cord, other nerves, blood vessels are all protected by your spine, and dozens of really important muscles attach to it. If all of these important things are protected by or attached to your spine, do you think it’s designed to be that fragile? No! It’s actually designed to be one of the most protective parts and strongest parts of your body. Instead of thinking about how “weak” or “fragile” your back is, we’d like you to start realizing how strong it’s designed to be - if you make it that way. Also, there are joints and muscles in your body that are designed to help your spine twist. If it wasn’t supposed to move and twist like that, why would it be made that way? Think about baseball players, how many times do they twist in their life? Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of times. If twisting was bad for your back, they would all end up with back surgeries at some point (spoiler alert: they don’t all end up with back surgeries at some point).
Just as important, we want you to realize that stress isn’t bad for your body. Stress is how your body grows, gets stronger, and heals. When you lift weights, you’re putting stress through your muscles which then makes your body respond by making your muscles bigger and stronger. If you run hard, it stresses your lungs and heart which makes them get bigger and stronger. It’s also how your body heals itself. When you break a bone, you need to put the right amount of stress through that bone to make sure it heals properly. So, we’d love for you to stop thinking of stressing your body as a bad thing. If you don’t stress an area of your body, it doesn’t protect it, it just makes it weaker and more likely to be injured. Instead, the answer is to put the right amount of stress through your body in the right way to make it get stronger and more resilient to what you want to do. That’s exactly what we do, give you a structured plan that puts the right stress at the right place at the right time.
Lastly, it’s just not realistic to avoid twisting all of the time. Think about getting in and out of your car. How can you possibly do that without twisting? If your child does something that you want to protect them from, you might need to bend over and twist at the same time. If you’re loading and unloading your dishwasher you’re probably twisting every single time. The point is, you’re twisting your back many times every day. It’s not bad for you and you do it much more than you even realize.
Hopefully now you realize that twisting isn’t bad for your back. And, if you’re having pain with twisting, the answer isn’t to avoid it for the rest of your life. It’s not realistic and it also limits how you can move and what you can do for no reason. Instead of avoiding a movement your back is supposed to be able to do, find someone who can help you come up with a plan to get your back stronger and better so you can get back the life you want.
If you want to speak to one of our experts about your back or what we can do for you, text us or call us at 202-922-7331 or contact us here and we’ll let you know the real truth behind what is realistic for your back.
And we’ll let you know the real truth behind what is realistic for your back.