Most of us spend our days sitting at a desk, staring at our phones, or slouching on the couch in front of the television. We could eventually find ourselves adopting bad posture, or even worse, we might not even be aware of it.
More often than not, poor static posture will lead to movement dysfunctions and can be the main factor in neck, shoulder, back, and hip discomfort.
What is the thoracic spine?
The region of the middle back that extends from T1 to T12 is referred to as the thoracic spine. Since most of the actions we perform on a daily basis are relatively anterior dominant, many people report stiffness in this area.
The issue with this region\’s rigidity is that it prevents us from raising our arms above our heads and thoracic extension. The body will sometimes choose the route of least resistance and compensate above or below the joint when the range is constrained to this region.
Focusing on thoracic spine mobility is crucial for improving function, decreasing discomfort, or boosting physical performance.
Because the anterior portions of the torso are typically the main emphasis, mobilization of the thoracic spine is not frequently addressed. Thoracic spine mobilization benefits each and every one of us, even if it may not be the only factor in mobility disorders and discomfort.
Why is thoracic mobility important?
By integrating thoracic mobility activities in your warm-up, you may frequently avoid shoulder soreness and fix overhead positioning problems.
The scapula can sit and operate appropriately when there is adequate thoracic extension.
We must first discuss the concept of kyphosis in order to comprehend the significance of thoracic mobility. The upward rounding of the upper back is known as kyphosis.
The simplest way to think about this is to hunch your upper back and roll your shoulders forward.
The upper back should have a modest kyphotic curve; however, a more severe curvature will cause the scapula to tilt anteriorly. When this occurs, the sub-acromial space is condensed.
The bicep tendon is frequently impinged as a result, severely limiting shoulder range of motion.
In addition to causing discomfort and irritation, this will make lifting weights overhead risky.
Two of the most well-known authorities in the subject, Eric Cressy and Mike Reynold, assert that around 13 to 15 degrees of thoracic extension are needed to achieve complete shoulder flexion. Whether this range can be measured or if it is only personal to the individual is up for dispute.
How can you improve your thoracic mobility?
Change requires time and persistence, just as with any posture adjustment. Our recommendation is a combination of soft tissue therapy from a nearby therapist and mobility exercises. The pec minor, pec major, lats, teres major, and anterior delts are the main muscle groups to concentrate on.
We advise practising thoracic mobility every day if you have inadequate thoracic mobility.
The exercises listed below have been shown to improve thoracic extension and rotation.
1. Thoracic Extension w/ Roller & Bar
This exercise is excellent for enhancing thoracic extension. Place a bar and roller on the ground to get started. Reach up and hold the bar while keeping the roller on your thoracic spine.
For this exercise, there are two hand postures.
The first one will concentrate more on extending the last and trees major since the hands are close together.
The wide-handed position is the second option, which will emphasize extending the pecs more.
It is crucial to keep your breath during this exercise. You may ease into the stretch by taking deep breaths in and out.
With each set, try to hold for 90 seconds.
2. Cat-Camel Drill
The thoracic spine\’s flexion and extension can be improved with this workout.
Move steadily from a completely flexed to a fully extended position while starting in the quadruped position.
It\’s crucial to breathe in as you stretch and out as you flex when doing this.
For several sets, we advise starting with 10–12 repetitions.
3. Deep Squat + Thoracic Rotation
A more difficult exercise that is a prerequisite for the overhead squat is the deep squat with thoracic rotation.
This exercise has two variations: the first uses no weight for repetitions, while the second uses a light DB (2–3 kg) maintained for a brief period of time.
In order to reach aloft with one arm, you must maintain a deep squat stance for your hips. 3 sets of 8 on each side to begin.
4. Spiderman w/ Thoracic Rotation
Hip mobility and thoracic rotation are both greatly enhanced by the Spiderman with thoracic rotation.
Start in the push-up position to start the exercise.
Start by extending one leg away from your hands. The hip flexors on the rear leg and the adductors on the front leg should both feel stretched in this posture.
The second step is to extend your hand towards the sky while rotating through your thoracic spine.
For 3 to 5 seconds, hold the top position before switching sides.
For many sets, we advise starting with 6–8 repetitions on each side.
5. Side-Lying Thoracic Windmill
To strengthen thoracic extension and rotation, try the side-lying windmill.
Starting while lying on your side, stretch your hip at a 90-degree angle while placing your knee on a foam roller. To get your arm to reach the floor on the opposite side, move your upper hand around your head.
For numerous sets, we advise beginning with 6-8 repetitions on each side.