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When posting up an opponent, an NBA player must be able to rotate his upper body quickly and powerfully in either direction. What happens if his middle back is tight? The same thing that happens to all of us: His lower back compensates, resulting in pain -- or, worse, muscle pulls and herniated discs. Ouch!

Pull-ups and rows are popular exercises for building back muscle. Twisting stretches aren't nearly as sexy. Consequently, those big, beautiful mid-back muscles are often devoid of flexibility. Don't worry, though: You can restore mid-back mobility and enhance the stability of your core by incorporating these three moves into your conditioning:

 

Easy Seated Twist | Enhances mobility in the middle spine (t-spine) and promotes hip opening

Start in a basic cross-legged position. (If your hips are too tight to comfortably sit cross-legged, try sitting on a folded mat or block.) Place your left hand on your right thigh and your right hand behind you. Inhale and engage your core while lengthening your spine, especially in your lower back. As you exhale, twist to the right, making sure the twist originates from your middle back. Hold for three breaths. Exhale to return to center. Repeat on the other side.

 

Kneeling Lunge Twist | Strengthens the core and stretches hip flexors

From a kneeling lunge, with your left knee aligned above your ankle, place your right hand on your left thigh and reach your left arm forward with the palm up. Engage your core for balance. Inhale as you twist from your middle back to reach your left arm behind you. Take three long, deep breaths. Exhale as you unwind the pose. Repeat on the other side.

 

Twisting Chair | Supports proper pelvic function and strengthens the core, lower back, quads and glutes

Stand up with your feet together and hands together at the center of your chest. Exhale as you sit back into a squat with your knees touching. Inhale and draw your navel towards your spine to engage your core. Exhale as you twist to the right and bring your left elbow to your right thigh for leverage. Keep your hips level and low back stable. Take three long, deep breaths. Exhale to unwind the pose. Repeat on the other side.

These three moves create mid-back mobility, stability in the lower back (or lumbar region) and core strength -- everything you need to twist and shout on the court.

Yoga pose images by RiMo|Photographics


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