Thoracic spine mobility is one of the most common areas of dysfunction presenting to the clinic. In fact, it is the most common area of treatment. Thoracic spine joints are prone to dysfunction due to the structure of the joints and lifestyle factors.
Structure of the Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine is more commonly referred to as the middle back given its location between the neck and lower back. The middle back is comprised of twelve thoracic segments and forms additional joints with the rib cage. As a result, the joints in your thoracic spine are prone to stiffness. This is the price you pay for added protection of the rib cage. Noteworthy, extension and rotation are the most vital movements our body requires from this region.
The phrase “If you don’t use it, you lose it” rings true when looking at the thoracic spine. Quite frankly, people sit too much, move too less and it results in tons of problems. With that being said, the thoracic spine is a common culprit in neck pain, lower back pain, and shoulder pain with overhead lifting.
As an illustration, imagine your spine is a conveyor belt staffed by laborers (joints). Unfortunately, a few of the joints take an extended lunch break that requires all the other laborers to pick up the slack. It is not difficult to imagine this leading to problems. I call this load sharing and this idea is incredibly important for musculoskeletal health. Oftentimes, the areas of the body that hurt are the ones moving too much and bearing too much of the load. For this reason, rehabilitation exercises are focused on getting the spine to share the load.
It is so important to move your thoracic spine every single day. I am constantly sending patients home with rehab exercises that focus on thoracic spine mobility and they are getting great results. I answered the question, “What should I be doing?” so often that I put together a free document. The exercises demonstrated aim to improve thoracic spine mobility, particularly extension and rotation. Also, check out OMNE Chiropractic on YouTube for additional videos on self care to prevent injury and get rid of pain.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact the clinic.