Awakening The Thoracic Spine
If you sit at a desk for work, drive long hours, or hunch over staring at your phone all day long – your thoracic spine might need a little love.
Your thoracic spine is essentially your “mid back”. It begins just at the base of the neck where your cervical vertebrae end (the neck bones) and ends just before your lumbar spine (your low back). The thoracic spine is comprised of 12 bones in total. Each one of these bones is designed to move in rotation, flexion, and extension.
The primary function of your thoracic spine is rotation. We need the thoracic spine to rotate efficiently in order to perform a variety of movements such as walking, running, throwing, as well as pushing and pulling well with one arm – to name only a few.
The thing is, most of us don’t rotate well through the thoracic spine at all.
Why? Because we’re so “locked down” due to poor posture as a result of our modern lives. Sitting often, hunching over your phone or computer, driving a lot, and more, can lead to a hunched over “rounded back” type of posture. This, usually, means your thoracic spine is “stuck” in flexion. When your thoracic spine is stuck in flexion, it makes it very difficult to rotate and limits the range of motion in which you can rotate through your thoracic spine.
Also, thoracic rotation (often times) involves thoracic extension (arching backwards), and if your body is stuck in thoracic flexion (hunched over) you can’t access extension.
Why does this matter?
If your thoracic spine can’t rotate or extend well, it will take that movement from somewhere else (above or below the thoracic spine) somewhere in the body. Most likely it will create rotation in your lumbar spine (your lower back), and you’re lower back DOES NOT like rotation – it’s not designed to rotate well. If you’re always rotating through your lower back it can (and most likely will) lead to some degree of pain or discomfort, and even injury, in the long run. The same goes for repeated extension through the lower back without assistance from the thoracic spine.
Hunched over posture also limits the body’s ability to breath well. If you’re hunched over, you can’t access the full capacity of your lungs.This leads to constant shallow breathing, which can lead to a whole host of health issues in the long run.
If you’re looking to move, look, and breath your best – in order to improve your health forever – you NEED to make sure your thoracic spine is doing what it was designed to do. You need to take care of the movement in the thoracic spine.
In our upcoming series we’ll look at how to restore both rotation, and extension, through your thoracic spine – elevating hunched over posture, improving your movement, and your breathing. It will level up your life in a very noticeable way. Stay tuned!