The Benefits of Anti-Rotation Exercises

Anti-rotation exercises and their importance 

The core is pivotal when it comes to assessing and treating any injury, especially low back pain. We know that core stability is essential for balancing load within the spine, pelvis, and the entire kinetic chain. 

Your core muscles are responsible for several movements, including forward flexion, extension, rotation and lateral flexion. They create stability for the pelvis and trunk. Muscular strength contributes largely to stability of the spine however sensory inputs from the Central Nerve System also play a crucial role in the relationship between the body and its external environment. It is this constant relaying of feedback and refining movements accordingly that aims to keep the spine “safe”. 

Your core muscles can be broken down into two groups; your stabilisers and global movers. Dr Stuart McGill, a leading professor in the world of low back pain, believes that the focus for spine stability should be on your “prime mover” muscles, specifically your abdominal obliques and quadratus lumborum. 

McGill quoted in his book ‘Low Back Disorders’ that “before athletes can rotate explosively with maximum power and minimal risk of injury, they must learn to anti-rotate.” Anti-rotation exercises aim to increase the capacity of your core muscles to brace and stabilise the trunk by resisting movement. This then prepares the body for any external forces that may try to rotate the body, ensuring the body is able to respond safely to these forces. 

The exercises are functional and applicable to a lot of daily tasks, such as a carrying a heavy shopping bag in one hand. Training the core through anti-rotation exercises teaches the core muscles how to respond to rotational forces, instead of the spine having to take the load. 

Here are some examples of anti-rotation exercises that we use with our clients: 

Bird dog 


Technique cues: 

  • As you reach one arm forward, extend the opposite leg behind you 
  • Try to avoid your hips from rotating 
  • If your back is arching then you’re likely lifting your leg too high 

Dosage: Complete 2-3 rounds of 4 x 10 second holds alternating sides  

Standing Palloff Press  


Technique cues: 

  • Step out to create slight resistance in the band (you don’t need much resistance) 
  • Press arms forward away from you and keep your hips square 
  • Focus on slowly bringing the band back towards your chest 

Dosage: Complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side 

Unilateral Farmers Carry 


Technique cues: 

  • Squat down to pick up the kettlebell  
  • Walk in a straight line and try to resist the weight from side flexing your trunk 
  • You should feel the oblique of your contralateral side working throughout 

Dosage: Complete 2-3 sets of ~30m laps 

Bird Dog Row


Technique cues: 

  • Start in a high plank position with your feet slightly further than hip distance apart 
  • Drive the dumbbell back towards your hip
  • Keep your hips still throughout 

Dosage: Complete 2-3 sets of ~30m laps

In terms of where to start with incorporating these exercises into your program, we suggest starting with exercises such as the bird dog or shoulder taps. From here, you could progress the bird dog by completing a bird dog row. Increasing the resistance of bands or weights used will challenge the core to have to work harder to resist rotation. 

These exercises can be used for injury prevention, generalised strengthening or for specific rehabilitation programs. If are experiencing low back pain, book in to see one our physiotherapists either at Double Bay or Coogee for a thorough assessment and an individualised treatment plan. Most likely some of these anti-rotation exercises will be in your program.

Phoebe McGeoch – BeFit Training Physio Coogee

Phoebe McGeoch – BeFit Training Physio Coogee

Phoebe McGeoch is a physiotherapist based in Coogee in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Phoebe has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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