The thoracic spine can be a hub of pain

Shoulder pain.

Neck pain.

Headaches.

Decreased shoulder range of motion.

Decreased neck range of motion.

Numbness and/or tingling in the arm or hand.

Any of these issues can have an origin within your thoracic spine. In case you are not familiar, the thoracic spine is that fancy piece of real estate between the neck and the low back.

Yup. Right where I said it would be.

Yup. Right where I said it would be.

Posture can become abnormal and painful

Now, before someone goes and gets all huffy, I didn’t say that all of those things ARE caused by issues in the thoracic spine but they all CAN be. Let’s not get out tighty whities in a bind.

Here is the short story as to why the thoracic spine is kind of a big deal that no one knows about. It needs to be mobile. If it gets too stiff, known as hypomobility, other parts of the body have to make up for the thoracic spine’s lack of motion.

Also, hypomobility tends to be associated with rounded shoulders and somewhat of a forward head posture.

While some people may argue that there is no “normal” posture, the position on the right will definitely cause you some problems.

While some people may argue that there is no “normal” posture, the position on the right will definitely cause you some problems.

The body will follow the path of least resistance

As one part of the body becomes tight, other parts often shift or adjust to try to help. So, here is part of what makes the thoracic spine the cool kid that is kind of a dick.

The thoracic spine rounds forward and becomes tight.

The ribs, which attach to the spine, have their position adjusted and they may also become stiff.

The shoulder blades, which sit on the ribs, shift up and forward (typically).

On the end of the shoulder blade is the glenoid fossa (socket for the shoulder). Since the shoulder blade is shifted, the relationship between the ball and socket of the shoulder is off.

This “new” position now makes moving the arms above shoulder height difficult. Repeatedly trying will often lead to shoulder impingement and other rotator cuff issues.

But wait, there's more.jpg

posture is a learned behavior

All of the things I just mentioned happen slowly over time. This is not a bad weekend situation. None of these things typically happen in the short term.

So yes, you can slouch and push your head forward looking at your computer or phone and you will not have immediate issues. It is not like touching a hot surface.

These issues build over years. In some cases, decades.

Since these shifts take time to happen, they become ingrained in how you move. Your nervous system recognizes these abnormal positions as “normal”. So fixing this mess requires adjusting and changing many behaviors.

The good news? It is all fixable in most cases. Check out the video to learn an effective strategy that you can start using right away.


If you are dealing with any of the symptoms I mentioned above and you are tired of dealing with the pain, let’s talk about how EBM can help.


 

Do not forget to grab your copy of the 7-Day Strength and Mobility Reboot and The Ultimate Posture Guide.


Until next time,

Dr. Tom.

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