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
Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the achilles tendon. There can be various causes for developing this condition. Achilles tendonitis is common among active individuals and mostly in the athletic population as a whole. I have seen many patients with this condition from working individual to elite athletes. This condition can be detrimental as it assist with a simple daily movement like walking.
The achilles tendons are located behind your ankle. It is a thick band of connective tissues (tendon) which are formed by the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles that inserts down to the tip of the calcaneal bone. Its function is to help with the toe off when walking, jumping and climbing.
The signs and symptoms of achilles tendonitis are:
1. Depending on the severity of the injury, rest is the most important treatment protocol. You need to keep the achilles tendon in the most comfortable position (neutral). Rest the injured ankle until the inflammation subside before taking another step forward with rehabilitation.
2. If your ankle is feeling achy, you can apply ice on the injured tendon. I suggest ice assage so that you can control where the ice is applied over the painful area. Use an ice cube or a dixie cup with ice for 10-15 minutes applied directly to the skin. Move the ice in a circular motion as if you are massaging the sore area.
3. If the symptoms persist, visit your Athletic Therapist where they will treat your injury with various treatment techniques. For example, they may first heat the injured area to bring blood flow, use ultrasound to help with deep heating to the tissue to bring nutrients into the area and simply massage to loosen the muscles that are tight. These tight muscles could be partially responsible for the development of the condition.
Here are three prevention tips to ease pain.
1. Use the strassburg sock or a night splint that will allow your ankle to be in a neutral position. This device can be used for plantar fasciitis as well. This is helping to lengthen the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles during the night.
2. Perform calf stretches daily. You have two stretches that are important to help alleviate achilles pain. A) Straight knee stretch B) Bent knee stretch Both are targeting the calves that will help with the achilles tendon.
3. Add standing and seated calf raises to your training. This will help strengthen the gastronemius-soleus complex that will also improve muscular endurance during daily functional movements of the ankles.
Team Insahyu: Certified Athletic Therapists.