Thoracic spine tightness, or hypomobility, is something that plagues most people I meet and almost none of them have any idea it is a problem.

That is because when the thoracic spine is tight, you can have:

  • neck pain and decreased neck range of motion (ROM)

  • shoulder pain and decreased shoulder ROM

  • difficulty sleeping

  • headaches (these tend to be more on one side of the head)

  • and difficulty sitting up straight

You see, very rarely does the thoracic spine actually hurt. It just ruins the good times for everything else around it, which is kind of a dick move. 

 It looks so harmless, like a calm lake except there are carnivorous fish waiting below the surface for you to put your foot in so they can rip it apart. Wait, what were we talking about?

It looks so harmless, like a calm lake except there are carnivorous fish waiting below the surface for you to put your foot in so they can rip it apart. Wait, what were we talking about?

In the picture above, you can see that the thoracic spine curves forward naturally. 

Too much sitting at the computer, staring at our phones and commuting to and from work cause us to curve forward even more.

Left unchecked, this continues to progress and the spine can, essentially, fuse so that we lose the ability to extend.

With a little awareness and the right tools for the job, we can improve and maintain thoracic mobility. 

Using a foam roller is great (see below) but sometimes we cannot get on the ground to mobilize our spine. The video below the foam roller one will show how you can mobilize the spine in a standing position. It can be done almost anywhere. 

Start with the foam roller around shoulder-blade level. Cradle the head and neck. The goal is to keep the neck relaxed during the mobilization. An often overlooked component of this mobilization is the lumbar spine. Focus on keeping the low back pressed towards the floor as you arch over the roller. Allowing the low back to arch over the roller decreases the effectiveness of the movement. You should pressure (kind of like a knuckle-cracking sensation in the spine) as you arch over the roller. Sometimes you will feel or hear a pop. This is perfectly fine. Even if you do not get a pop, the mobilization is still working. As you arch over, you will reach a point where the spine can no longer move unless you release the low back. Keep the low back locked in and hold this position for 5-8s. Return to the start position. You can move up or down slightly to mobilize different parts of the spine. Focus on the parts that are the stiffest and resistant to the mobilization.

Stand in front of a bar (or another surface that is stable and will not move - kitchen counters also work great for this). Walk the feet back, perform a hip hinge and pivot forward until you feel so resistance to the movement in the thoracic spine. Hold this position for 5-6 seconds. Repeat as needed. NOTE: this may cause the back to crack. Not getting a crack in the back does not mean the movement was ineffective.

Comment

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out