Written by: Emilie Smale, Certified Athletic Therapist
Are you constantly feeling like you have a tight feeling in your upper back or ‘knots’ around your shoulder blades? Stagnation in your thoracic spine, or t-spine, may be what is causing these problems. Stagnation, or rather, lack of mobility is best combated with movement rather than static stretching or massage.
We’ll start off with what the T-spine is; the T-spine is the part of the spine that is categorized as the upper back. Located underneath the neck and above the lumbar spine (low back). It is comprised of 12 vertebrae. The t-spine is meant for movements in many directions, compared to the low back which is designed for stability rather than mobility.
Decreased movement abilities in the upper back can lead to the neck, shoulder, low back, pelvis, and surrounding muscles to compensate for the lack of movement. This will eventually lead to injury such as a shoulder impingement or imbalances throughout the lower body.
A great way to demonstrate how t-spine mobility and shoulder performance are linked is by sitting and slouching throughout your upper back. From this position try lifting your arms straight up. Now, try sitting with a nice straight posture and try the same movement with your shoulders. See the improvement?
Wondering if you have decreased t-spine mobility and could benefit from mobility and strengthening exercises? Stand by a full-length mirror and look at your body from the side. Is your upper to middle back overly rounded? If so, try some of these mobility exercises shown below.
T-Spine Foam Roller Extensions
This exercise will help stretch out the chest and back muscles, relieve muscular tension, and improve thoracic mobility. Place the foam roller under your upper back and lift your arms up and back. Extend your thoracic spine back over the foam roller and roll slowly up and down the vertebrae, pausing on any stiff or sore parts. Do not roll the neck or lower back, focus solely on the t-spine.
Thread the Needle
Begin on all fours, reach one arm underneath your body to the opposite side. You should feel a nice stretch along your upper back, hold this pose and breath deeply for about 5 seconds. Next, rotate all the way back through and reach high with that same arm. Repeat on the other side.
If you think your t-spine mobility is causing pain and imbalances, contact an Athletic Therapist for an assessment!
Written by: Jan Earl de Chavez BKin-AT, CAT(C)
During the past few months, the global pandemic caused a lot of changes to everyone’s lives. Students found themselves studying and being tested at home for their courses. Jobs were modified to be able to be done remotely through video conference. Of course, a lot of people found themselves with more free time, which some spent on entertaining themselves with hobbies. Regardless of the reason, a sizeable majority are now engaging in prolonged sitting behind a desk whether for school, work or entertainment. This article is gives tips for practicing the best posture and body positions for you when sitting for a long time.
1) Chair height
Ensure that your chair is high enough that your forearms are parallel with the keyboard and mouse. If raising your chair causes your feet to no longer touch the floor, then I suggest investing in a foot rest or a stool. Otherwise your feet will have the tendency to cross over each other for support.
2) Monitor adjustments
The top of the monitor on your desk should just be a little bit higher than your eye level, and should be at least half a metre away from your eyes. If you are on a laptop, refer to the next tip for posture, but also ensure the screen is the right distance away from you.
The best posture when working behind a desk is sitting upright with the neck straight and chin tucked. Shoulders are relaxed, forearms resting on the arm rests. It is important to correct yourself every time you begin to slouch, otherwise you will slouch more and more. Also note that sitting upright does not mean arching your back all the way. Sitting upright is just adjusting how your hips are sitting on the chair by rotating it.
4) Take breaks
Long periods of sitting can lead to muscular or joint issues. It is important to take a short walk and stretch break for 5 minutes every hour, or 10 minutes every hour and a half of sitting. Don’t forget to also move your upper body around. Breaks can also help with resting your eyes from all the screen time.
5) Keyboard and Mouse
If you utilize your keyboard a lot for work or entertainment, ensure that it is helps not hinders your performance. The keyboard should have a wrist rest so that your wrists remain straight when pressing keys. The same goes if you utilize your mouse a lot. Your mouse pad should have a wrist rest, alternatively you can place a small rolled up towel underneath your wrist to keep straight.
These are just some tips to keep in mind when sitting behind a desk. A lot of today’s equipment such as chairs and desks can be adjusted to provide its user the most comfort and ensure productivity.
If you developed issues from prolonged sitting, I may be able to assist through athletic therapy treatments. Come visit me at Insahyu Training + Therapy, located at 250 Saulteaux Crescent, or you can visit our website and book online.
Team Insahyu: Certified Athletic Therapists and Certified Personal Trainers.