Disclaimer: Please be aware that information in this article is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding an injury or medical condition.
Written by: Taylor Post BA-Kin, CAT(C)
Your spinal column is divided into three sections (cervical, thoracic and lumbar). The longest of the three segments, the thoracic spine is positioned in the middle of your upper back. To function properly, the thoracic spine needs to bend, flex, extend and rotate. All while providing support for the neck above, the rib cage, and both upper and lower limb movements. Unfortunately, all of theses movements can diminish over time with misuse and sedentary postural demands (think desk jobs and texting/typing all day). This can lead to chronic tension and pain.
Whether you use them to supplement to your upper body workouts, or as a daily mobility sequence, here are some exercises to help get you started:
1. T- Spine Rotations
Begin by lying on your right side, with your arms straight in front of you and your knees/hips tucked at ninety degrees. If needed, use a pillow or foam roller under your top knee to keep your hips and lower back stable. Next rotate to the left along your thoracic spine until your upper back and top (left) arm are flat against the ground (or as close as possible). Hold this position for 2-3 seconds and repeat 10-15 times per side.
For a more dynamic version of this exercise, begin on all fours (quadruped position). Make sure that your knees are under your hips, and that your hands are lined up directly under your shoulders. This will ensure a neutral spine position. Next you will place your right hand on the back of you neck or upper back. Do not push or pull down on your head. Leading with your elbow, rotate to open up your chest to the right. Try to point your right elbow straight up to the ceiling. Move through the available range of motion (without breaking proper form), 8-10 times on each side.
2. Spiderman Complex
Perform a forward lunge, stepping forward and slightly outwards with your right leg. Lower your body until your front (right) leg is bent at ninety degrees, and your back leg is straight (knee is almost touching the floor). From this lunge position, lean forward and touch the floor with both hands. Next you will perform the overhead reach to mobilize the thoracic spine. Keeping your right hand near your right instep, rotate and open your torso to reach overhead with your left arm, keeping it as straight as possible. Try and keep your eyes on your left hand while performing the movement. Complete 8 repetitions per side.
3. Push up Plus to Downward Dog
The first part of this movement is the push up plus. Starting in a tall plank position, with arms straight, push your upper back towards the ceiling. In other words, retract and protract your shoulder blades. This will not be a very large movement. It can, however, go a long way to build strength in your serratus anterior, a muscle that plays a big part in postural control.
The second part is the bent knee downward dog. From the plank position, push down through your hands and shift your stomach towards your thighs. Lift your hips up high, as your legs straighten (until your knees are only slightly bent). Depending on your flexibility, try to push your heels down towards the floor. Pause for 2-3 seconds at the top of the movement, before returning to high plank. Repeat this sequence for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
4. Extensions off of foam roller
Grab a foam roller and position yourself so that you’re lying with it under your upper back, perpendicular to your spine. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head to support you neck, but be careful not to pull your neck into an unnatural position.
Gently let your head fall towards the floor and try to extend your back over the foam roller. Roll slowly, up and down your spine, pausing at each vertebra to mobilize each segment. The idea is to relax your spine over the roller, to improve mobility in the vertebral joints of the thoracic spine. Make sure that you are keeping your abs tight, to avoid excessive strain on your low back. Perform as many times as needed.
Thoracic Spine mobility is essential to functional movement and proper posture. Those who lack mobility in the thoracic spine are at an increased risk for injuries to the shoulders and neck. Individuals with poor spinal mobility are also found to have an increased prevalence of low back pain. These four exercises can help unlock your thoracic spine and help you say goodbye to neck and back pain for good.
Thank you for reading and to learn more about exercises and rehab tips for injury prevention, please visit our website at www.insahyu.com
Written by: Melanie Talastas-Soriano BA-Kin, CAT(C), ISSA-CPT
Athletic Therapist, Personal Trainer
We know that core strength is as important as pumping our bicep and tricep muscles
but often, we may skip a core workout because it is difficult or just not saving time to
actually do them.
Core is not the six-pack abs we see on social media, rather it is something you mostly
use in a combination of other muscles to perform walking, pushing, pulling and lifting.
Basically, you need your core to do daily activities at work, at home and in the gym.
Reasons to have a strong core:
• Maintain good posture
• Avoid lower back pain
• Prevent injuries
• Increase endurance during long days of work
• Maintain healthy internal organs
• Maintain proper internal muscles and organ functions
Here are four exercises you can do at home with minimal equipment. All you need is a
mat, floor space and your shoes.
Exercise #1 Plank: Engage torso and shoulder girdle with a neutral spine, contracting your glutes, quads to lift onto a plank. Plank on elbow or plank on your hand and hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times. Rest for 15 seconds. Complete 3 sets of 5 repetitions. Plank on hand or plank on forearm/elbow.
Exercise #2 Side plank twists: Position yourself on your side with your forearm on the floor. With feet stacked together, engage your core and lift up to a nice straight line from your ankle, knees, hip and shoulder in a nice alignment. With the upper arm, twist your upper body and scoop inwards then lifting back up so that your arm is perpendicular to the floor. Repeat this exercise 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side. You should feel the work on the obliques and your bottom shoulder.
Exercise #3 Scissors: Engaging the core (tighten the transverse abdominus), lying on your back with one leg straight up and one straight slightly off the floor, hold that position for 4 seconds, then switch the legs like scissors. Complete this exercise 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Exercise #4 Banana Boat to Superman: This exercise will target the front and back of the body. Lying flat with arms up and legs straight, lift the arms and legs slightly off the floor. You should feel the abs contracting then roll over with minimal adjustments with arms and legs off the floor onto your belly. Tuck your chin as if you’re flying like Superman. Hold each position for 4 seconds, then roll over and hold for 4 seconds and complete 12 rolls in total for 3 rounds. Be sure to roll over equally (roll over to the right then back to center then, roll over to the left then back to center).
Team Insahyu: Certified Athletic Therapists and Certified Personal Trainers.