THE SPINAL TWIST PROCEDURE
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© September 2016, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
The following exercises will help you feel better, look better, and develop faster. They are a central part of all nutritional balancing programs. They fit our criteria for a therapy that is simple, inexpensive, harmless if done correctly, and very effective and powerful.
- THE NECK TWISTS
- Neck turn and extension. Lie down comfortably on a bed, a couch or a massage table. Lie on your back without a pillow under your neck.
Put your feet parallel and aimed away from the body.
Place your arms at your side, or they can be outward to the sides.
With your head centered in relation to your body, gently and slowly turn your head to the right until your right cheek is on the bed sheet. Do not slide the back of your head along the bed, but instead move your entire upper body to the right as you turn your head.
This means you will reach or stretch your upper spine and even the left shoulder as you turn your head to the right. If done right, you should have a good stretch or reach to the right. Do not be surprised or afraid if you hear some clicking or popping sounds as you turn your head.
Now gently and slowly move the head back to center and rest if you need to. Then move your head and upper back to the left until your left cheek is touching the bed sheet. Once again, this should stretch the upper back, neck and right shoulder as you move to the left. Then bring your head back to center position.
For even more effect, pull or move your head and neck upward toward the head of the bed as you do this reach or stretch. Do not let your head leave the bed, however. Keep your head on the bed, at all times.
You may repeat this exercise several times, if you wish. It is often excellent to help adjust the vertebra in the neck.
- The neck twist. Begin with the same position as in the exercise above – lying on your back with legs straight down and together. While looking at the ceiling, move your head about one or two inches to the left. Then slowly twist your neck and head to the right, as far as you can comfortably go. Do not move the left shoulder at all, and if needed, slide your head so that you simply twist your neck all the way to the right.
It helps to look all the way to the right with your eyes, and let your head follow your eyes around. Ideally, you should be able to twist your neck slowly and gently 180 degrees so that your mouth and nose are facing directly into the bed. However, never force it, and do not worry if you cannot turn your head this far. Do what is comfortable, and nothing more, or you can hurt yourself. Again, do not be surprised if you hear a click or a pop as you turn your head gently.
Now gently twist your head back to center position and rest for a moment. Now repeat the exercise on the other side. First move your head about one to two inches to the right. Then look all the way to the left. Now gently and slowly twist just the neck to the left as far as you can comfortably go, sort of following your eyes. You can stay in the twisted position for a moment and then slowly and gently return your head to the centered position.
For even more effect, as you twist your neck to the right or to the left, move your head up toward the head of the bed, as though you are unscrewing it from your body. Do everything gently!
- Neck and back to the side. Lie comfortably on your back on a bed with your legs extended and parallel. Your head needs to be straight, and look up at the ceiling.
Now slowly slide your head and shoulders, while they are on the bed, to the right, without turning your head at all. Do not move your hips or legs.
Move to the right as far as you can. This bends your spine to the right. It will often pop or click.
Return your head and shoulders to the center position. Now move your head and shoulders to the left without turning your head at all. Do not move your hips or legs. Go as far as you comfortably. This bends your spine to the left.
III. THE ARM PULLS
- Arm pull in the air. Lift both arms into the air above your head. Lock the hands together. Then pull both arms to the right, all the way to the bed, if you can. Then move back to center with the arms directly above your head and pull both arms to the left. If you do this correctly, often the shoulders will “pop” or crackle. That is good, as it is a release of tension.
- Arm pull behind your head. (This exercise requires that the head of your bed not be against a wall).
Place both arms behind your head. The arms will rest a little on the bed by your ears. Now join the hands together. Now move both arms to the right as far as you can. Then move both arms, locked together, to the left as far as you can. Keep your neck centered and look straight up at the ceiling while doing both exercises.
- Arm pull with hands clasped behind your neck. Lie down comfortably on your back on a bed or couch. Do not use a pillow for your head. Have your legs extended downward and straight, and not crossed.
Lift up your arms into the air. Now bend the arms at the elbows. Bring the hands to the back of the neck. Interlock your hands together behind your neck.
Now move the elbows together in front of your face. Often the upper back and shoulders will pop or click or snap. This is normal and good.
Turn your head, and your elbows to the right, as far as you can comfortably go. Then bring them back to center position. Now turn your head and your elbows to the left, as far as you can comfortably go. Often this will cause some popping in the upper back and shoulders. This is perfectly normal.
- FEET AND LEGS
These adjustments include:
- Toes down. You can wear socks, if you wish, for this exercise. Lie on a bed, couch or massage table on your back with your legs extended. Now grab the left foot and bring it toward you.
Push the toes downwards, somewhat forcefully. Often they will pop as you do this. This is excellent to relieve tension and move energy through the meridians that run through the toes. Repeat the exercise on the other foot.
- Toes back and forth. Remain in the same position, grab a foot, and move all the toes together back and forth, left to right and back again a few times, forcefully. Also, move them up and down together, forcefully. Repeat the exercise on the other foot. This also can relieve tension in the meridians and channels that flow through the toes.
- Reflexology. While in the same position on your back, you can do a short or a long foot rub or reflexology session. For example, if you have pain in the liver area, rub or push hard in the liver reflex areas of the foot.
If you want to relax your spine to help a spinal twist, then rub the entire spinal reflex area. This is the entire arch of the foot – from the tip of the big toe, along the arch, all the way to the inside of the heel area.
As part of this exercise, press hard on the top of each foot, in the webbing between the toes. Then work your way back, away from the toes, in the soft spaces between the long bones of the foot (the metatarsals).
Rub in the meridian channels between the first and second toes, the second and third toes, the third and fourth toes, and the fourth and fifth toes.
It is often best to finish by briefly rubbing the entire foot. Repeat on the other foot.
- Folding the foot. This is harder to describe, although it is not complex. Lie on your back on a bed or couch, with your feet outstretched. Bend one knee and grab that foot in the following way:
Place the thumbs of both hands on the bottom of the foot, and the fingers on the top of the foot, one on each side. Try to “fold up” the foot by pushing up with your thumbs and down with your fingers. The foot may pop or crackle. Then do the same on the other foot.
- Twisting the ankle. This can often be done just be flexing the ankle. Move it up and down, right and left. For a more forceful adjustment, grab the ankle with two hands, and twist it right, and then twist it left. Be careful and always do it gently.
You can also move it up or flex it, and then move it down or extend it. Again, always do it gently and carefully. Never force any movement.
- The knee pull. This is helpful for some knee problems. Always do it gently!
Lie on your back on a bed or couch, or on the floor. Extend both legs extended and parallel to each other.
Bend the left knee and swing it outward to the side. Grab the left ankle with both hands firmly. The ankle should now be over your genital area or even over your belly.
Slowly move your foot toward your head as far as it will go comfortably. The leg will bend more. Make sure the leg and knee feel totally relaxed. You can push and pull them a little to make sure.
Now give your foot a quick pull, pulling the foot and ankle directly toward your head. Often, when you do this, the knee will pop or click. This is perfectly normal, and it is the intent of this procedure.
Repeat with the other leg: First extend both legs parallel to each other while you lie on your back on the bed.
Bend the right knee, and move the knee outward to the side. Grab the right ankle with both hands firmly. Gently move the ankle as far as you can comfortably go toward your head. Make sure the leg, the ankle and the knee are totally relaxed. Then give a short, hard tug or pull on the ankle. This may cause the knee to pop or click.
- SPINAL TWISTS
There are five variants or ways to do this. They are each somewhat different. One method may work better than another to adjust your back. So try them all, especially if you have back problems. The variants are:
- Spinal twist with one leg straight up in the air.
- Spinal twist with one leg bent at the knee.
- Spinal twist with both legs bent at the knees.
- Spinal twist lying on one’s stomach.
- Spinal twist in the special position.
Here are the details:
Variant #1. Spinal twist with one leg straight up in the air. Lie on your back on a bed, couch or massage table, with legs extended and parallel to each, not crossed. Your arms should out to the sides. This is so that when you twist your spine, your shoulders will stay on the bed or couch. Keep your head straight, looking up at the ceiling. Do not use a pillow under your head. Here is the exercise:
- a) Lift the left leg, so that the foot is high in the air.
- b) Point your toes. (Your foot will be like that of a ballet dancer with the toes pointed.)
- c) Ring the door bell (pretend you are extending your big toe to ring a doorbell up in the air above you). This extends energy through the leg into the big toe. Another visualization for this step is to imagine you have a thick copper wire running through your leg and foot to the big toe. Energize the wire by sending mental energy through the wire into the big toe. Now you are in the correct position for the spinal twist.
- d) Swing right. Move the left foot to the right, swinging it over and across the right leg. Go as far as you can comfortably. Ideally, your left foot should touch the bed or couch.
Do this gently at first, as it is a twist. However, with a little practice, you can do it more forcefully. This may be needed, at times, to adjust your spine.
Do not be surprised if your spine pops or crackles during this procedure. That is totally normal.
- e) The extra twist. For an extra push, lie close to the right side of your bed or couch or massage table (not so close that you could fall off, however). When you move your left leg over the right leg that is on the bed or couch, keep moving it until your left leg touches the floor below your bed, couch or massage table.
This is a more powerful twist, so do it gently and slowly. As you get more familiar with it, you can do it more forcefully. Occasionally, this is necessary to adjust certain vertebra, especially in the lower back and hips.
- f) The extra, extra twist. For an even more powerful twist, before starting this twist, turn your head to the left, with your left cheek touching the bed or close to it. Now lift the leg, point the toe ballet-style, ring the doorbell, sending energy down the leg and into the big toe. Now swing the left foot and leg over the right leg, until the left foot gently touches the bed or even the floor.
Always do this gently and slowly, and never force anything. It is a very powerful twist, and many people do not need to do this. It is useful for some whose spine is out of alignment in certain ways, especially the upper back.
- g) Pulling it in. This is another variant or aspect of the twist. To do it, once you have swung the left leg over the right one to the bed or floor, either swing the left leg toward your body, or if you cannot do this easily, grab the left leg near the thigh, and pull it a little toward your chest and head.
This is also a more powerful twist. So always begin very gently, and never force anything. As with the other extra twists, however, this may be needed to adjust certain vertebrae, especially in the lower spine.
- h) The return. Now bend the left leg at the knee to release the twist. Return the left leg to the resting position parallel with the other leg, and make sure your head is back to the center position with the eyes directly facing the ceiling.
Now repeat the exercise with the right leg.
Variant #2. Spinal twist with one leg bent. This can be an even more powerful twist in some ways than exercise #1 above, depending on your posture and body structure.
- a) Lie down on your back on a bed or couch with both legs extended and parallel, and both arms extended out to the side to stabilize your shoulders.
- b) Bend the left leg. Bend it at the knee, bringing the left heel up near your groin.
Now move the left foot over the right thigh and plant the left foot firmly on the bed next to the right thigh. Your back should now be somewhat twisted.
- c) Gently and slowly swing the left knee and leg to the right as far as you can, until it comes to touch the bed or mat.
- d) The return. Now bring the left leg back to the upright or neutral position and extend the left leg next to the right one.
Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
Variant #3. Spinal twist with both knees bent. This twist is the gentlest. It is a wonderful way to start these procedures if you are apprehensive at all about doing these twists.
- a) Lie down comfortably on a bed, couch or massage table with both legs extended and parallel.Extend your arms out to the sides to keep your shoulders from moving when you do the twist.
- b) Bend the knees. Bend both legs at the knees. This means your knees will be up in the air, and both heels will now be touching or close to your buttocks.
- c) Swing right. Gently swing both knees to the right until they touch the bed or couch. Don’t be surprised if your back pops or crackles. This is perfectly normal. It is the reason you are doing the exercise.
- d) The return. Now bring both knees back to the upright neutral position where they were.
- e) Swing left. Now gently swing both knees to the left until they touch the bed or couch. Don’t be surprised if your back pops or crackles. This is perfectly normal and an excellent release of tension in the back.
Variant #4. On your stomach. This position is less comfortable. However, for some people it works better for adjusting the spine.
- a) Lie comfortably on your stomach, on a bed, couch, massage table, or on the floor. You can use a pillow for your head. Extend your legs straight down and parallel to each other.
- b) Turn your head. Turn your head to the left.
- c) Left leg lift. Lift your left leg, keeping it straight. The heel should be up in the air, at about a 30 to 45 degree angle from your body.
- d) Point the left toe, ballet style.
- e) Ring the doorbell. Extend your left leg, as though you are ringing a doorbell with the big toe, and the doorbell is just out of reach behind you.
- f) The swing. Now swing the left leg to the right, moving it across and over the right leg as far as you can comfortably go. Your spine may pop or crackle. That is normal.
- g) The return. Move the left leg back to where it was, and then drop it down onto the bed.
- h) Other side. Now do the same with the right leg. Lift it, with the heel in the air at about a 30 to 45 degree angle from the bed. Point the right toes. Ring the doorbell, extending the leg and extending energy through the right big toe. Now swing the right leg to the left, across and over the left leg as far as you can comfortably go. Your back may pop or crackle. Then return the right leg to its previous central position, and drop it back down onto the bed or couch.
Variant #5. Spinal twist in the special position. This is not a difficult twist, but it is difficult to get into the right position. I will try to describe it:
- a) Lie comfortably on your left side on a bed. Extend your left arm behind your back. Extend your right arm in front of you and perpendicular to your body.
- b) Turn your head to the right. Do not use a pillow for your head.
- c) Bend your left leg, bringing your left knee about half way up to your chest.
- d) Lock the right hand around the edge of the bed. This can be the right side of the bed, or the head of the bed. If necessary, move your body a little, so that your right hand just reaches the edge of the bed.
- e) Keeping your right leg straight, move the right leg backwards, away from your left leg, as far as you comfortably go.
- f) Turn the foot. Turn the right foot outward as far as you can comfortably go. Now you are in position for the twist.
- g) The twist. To do the twist, contract your right arm a little, pulling the right shoulder toward the corner of the bed. At the same time, move the right leg back more. This torques or twists the spine.
- h) The other side. Repeat the entire procedure on the other side of your body.
- OTHER TOPICS
- Always do the twists gently!As you feel more comfortable with them, you can do them more vigorously. Never do them vigorously if you have osteoporosis or if you are a woman over the age of 45.
- Never force anything. If you are very uncomfortable with a procedure, do not do it.
- If you have back problems, I suggest visiting a competent chiropractor or osteopath, and getting permission to do these exercises.
- These exercises can be repeated several times daily.
PURPOSES OF THE EXERCISES
These twists will:
- Keep your joints and other structures properly aligned.
- Release tension that builds up in the joints.
- Hasten development. This is a wonderful benefit.
- Help undo adhesions that cause pain, bad posture and other problems.
When. The twists are excellent to do at bedtime when you get into bed before putting your legs under the covers. They will help you relax and sleep better.
They are also excellent to do if you wake up at night and are having trouble going back to sleep. I always do them if I awaken at night. They can also be done during the day to align the spine.
All of the exercises work together, so ideally, do not skip any of them.
WHY DO MOST PEOPLE NEED THESE TWISTS?
Body alignment is important for health. However, this area of health care is rarely addressed by medical doctors or by the mass media, so most people are unaware of it.
Problems in body alignment and tension in the joints are very common. Reasons for this include:
- Muscles, tendons and ligaments are often weak. This often results in joints becoming slightly out of alignment, causing cartilage and joint damage, and nerve restriction. This is usually a nutritional problem.
- Bad posture. This is often a result of #1 above, but may have other causes.
- Accidents, traumas, injuries and especially falls. These usually cause spinal misalignments. Even emotional traumas, can move joints out of alignment.
- Adhesions. This is a type of scarring that is very common.
- Other. Misalignments and tension can occur due to birth trauma, stress, fatigue, moving improperly, practices such as yoga or some sports, and occasionally for other reasons such as arthritis and other diseases.
For these reasons, I believe everyone should do the twists at least once daily or even twice daily or more, if needed. They take only a few minutes.
The spinal twist exercises were not a part of Dr. Eck’s original nutritional program. However, Dr. Eck knew about spinal manipulation, and definitely advocated its use.
IS THIS LIKE CHIROPRACTIC OR OSTEOPATHY?
Yes. It is a “home version” of chiropractic or osteopathic care.
What about professional spinal care? It is excellent to receive this care professionally. However, this is not always possible due to:
- Difficulty finding an excellent chiropractor or osteopath.
- The cost of professional care.
- Daily alignment is even more costly, and often inconvenient.
- At times, these procedures are even better than professional spinal care because:
- a) Chiropractors or osteopaths are sometimes hesitant to adjust some people, or certain areas of the spine that may be very damaged or out of alignment. They may hesitate because the person is delicate, too old, too young, or the bones are fragile. As a result, spinal problems do not receive adequate care.
- b) Some chiropractors or osteopaths are not skilled enough, or may not want to work deeply enough.
- c) You can go at your own pace. You control the force and speed with which you do the exercises.
WHY THESE EXERCISES AND NOT THE MANY OTHERS TAUGHT IN YOGA CLASSES AND ELSEWHERE?
- These are safer than some others.
- Lying down works better than standing or sitting when twisting. The spine is more relaxed.
- You can easily adjust the intensity of the exercise.
- You can go at your own pace and are not as tempted to keep up with a class or “bounce” with these twists, as with some others taught in some classes. Bouncing is never a good idea. You can easily injure yourself.