Increasing Thoracic Mobility – Fixing Form and Pain
Got shoulder pain? How about lower-back pain? Do your shoulders roll forward? Struggle to keep your chest up when squatting heavy? Slouch when you sit down? Do you round your back when you deadlift?
Congratulations, you can join me and the rest of the club – 99% of people seem to have some sort of issue with thoracic mobility. However, you and I have the opportunity to fix it, as you were lucky enough to stumble upon this article…
In my opinion, lack of thoracic mobility is one of the two leading causes of pain. It is certainly a big inhibitor for a mobile, well-balanced, athletic (now we’re talking), pain free, and injury proof athlete. Lack of hip mobility being the other.
What is Thoracic Mobility, and Why Should I Increase It?
The skeletal muscles have two main roles – mobility and stability. All muscles provide both, however as stability increases mobility usually decreases and vice versa. Therefore, the body has a system where some muscles are designed to produce more stability and others are made to have more mobility.
As you can see, the thoracic spine is around the region of your upper back. Believe it or not, it is one of them muscles which is designed to be highly mobile.
Though, unfortunately we lack this mobility, so we look for it from somewhere else… which leads us to twist, rotate, flex, bend and extend at the lumbar spine (lower back), an area made to be highly STABILE – why hello back pain and poor form!
So now we know were meant to have a mobile thoracic spine and a stable lumbar spine, here are the benefits of the former:
- Increased Performance – By having the ability to engage your thoracic spine during times of spinal rotation, flexion, and extension, you will be stronger, faster, more agile and explosive. Stronger in all powerlifting movements and Olympic movements, being able to throw harder and further, tackle harder, punch harder and much more.
- Strong and pain free lower back – Your lumbar spine will be freed up to do its job, provide strength and stability, rather than make up for your lack of mobility.
- No more slouching – The current endemic which is slouching, will be eradicated by improving your thoracic mobility. You will also no longer need to worry about pain in the office.
- Stronger upper back and pain free shoulders – No more douche bag shoulder syndrome/rounding of the upper back, preventing you from natural scapular action. No more lack of upper back musculature and strength, due to greater activation of these muscles.
Increasing Thoracic Mobility
Here are my 3 favourite drills for increasing thoracic mobility. Excuse the unperfected form in the video and the horrendously unprofessional cleanliness:
Knees up, feet and glutes on the floor, foam roller under thoracic spine. Put your hands behind your head and try to “wrap” yourself around the roller. Extend your thoracic spine as far as it will go, roll, pause and extend over tight and painful areas. Slowly move up the back. Perform this for at least 2 minutes, or better yet, until you feel some positive changes.
T-Spine Peanut Crunches:
Wrap yourself around the balls like you did with the foam roller, with arms extended straight ahead. Do five crunches, making sure to keep your lumbar spine stable and your hips on the ground; move only your thoracic spine, using the balls as a reference point. After each rep, be sure to touch your head to the floor before the next one. I would also highly recommend adding rotation to this movement as this is a important function of the thoracic spine. Once again perform for at least 2 minutes, or until you make positive changes.
Once you’ve finished wrapping them balls around yourself, get on your hands and knees… Put your right hand behind your neck and rotate along your thoracic spine, making your elbow turn towards the floor. Keep your lower back tight, and sit back a bit into your hips to keep them from rotating (I didn’t really do this very well). Repeat for at least 10 repetitions each side or until you feel positive change.
Thank you for your support by spending the time to read this. I’m sure it will benefit you, as 99% really do need to increase thoracic mobility. Please “like”, comment, share and of course follow my twitter and like my Facebook page.