Raise your arms overhead. Go on, try it. Now holding them up there, straighten your thoracic spine, exaggerate “good” posture. Look where your arms are now! Magic? No. Just proving a point.
Your thoracic spine contributes significantly to your trunk, shoulder and neck mobility.
Without a fully functioning thoracic spine, your range of motion will be limited. This limitation will often cause a “loading” of different structures and ultimately can lead to an injury or pain.
Muscles doing a job they weren’t designed for, aren’t happy muscles.
Lets look a little further.
Your thoracic spine is made of 12 vertebrae. These joints are designed to support your head and neck, rotate and flex your trunk, allow rib movement and provide attachment points for muscles and ligaments all while providing protection for your spinal cord.
We have a lot of patients ask us how to improve their back flexibility. The first, and most important factor to consider is how these joints move. No point trying to stretch them in a direction they don’t go!
It was previously thought that we didn’t move much through our thoracic spine, but research to the rescue. It is “normal” to have a flexion (forward bend) range of between 30-50 degrees and an extension range (backward bend) of up to 10 degrees. We utilise a lot of side bending range through our thoracic spine, and rotation is contributed to as well.
What does it all mean?
Stretching exercises should focus on these available movements, don’t try and force into extension or keep the movements “pure”. Unlike many other body parts where it is important to isolate one particular movement, this isn’t essential in the thoracic spine.
Sit a lot at a desk? Drive a lot? Generally feeling stiff and sore in the middle back? Try these:
- Thoracic spine rotation in quadriped
2. Seated Thoracic spine rotation
3. Kneeling box/foam roller “extension”
Remember… there is no right and wrong range of movement. You just want to optimise what you have and maintain a healthy, functional spine.
Any questions, want to know more about dosage? Give us a call 8544 8484
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