Why So Much Emphasis is Put on Thoracic Mobility
If you’ve ever been to the physio for neck pain or low back or even shoulder pain, you will have noticed they spent a decent amount, if not the majority, of time working on your mid-upper back (“thoracic”) mobility. The reason so much time and emphasis is put on the thoracic is this:
Think of the amount of time the average person sits at a desk or in a car or stands chatting on the phone. This entire time, your thoracic spine is working overtime to take on all the forces that your neck loads it up with. So if you’re sitting at a computer, poking your head forward to stare at the screen, the weight of your heavy head travels down to your spine and gets stored right in the middle of your back. Now as these forces continue to build up, your thoracic gets stiffer and stiffer. As a result, when you need to move to pick something up or paddle to catch that wave; because you don’t get any mobility from the middle of your back anymore, your neck or lower back or shoulders move MORE than they should be, causing these structures to get over-stretched and injured.
So What should you be doing?
Maintain thoracic mobility yourself by using a foam roller and doing easy thoracic stretches on the floor.
Have monthly maintenance sessions where you get a helping hand. Get a physio or chiro to loosen up any stiff joints and tight muscles to help you maintain mobility in between sessions on your own.
Be aware of your posture! That forward head poke has HUGE impacts on your body. Don’t slouch. Keep your chin tucked in and don’t arch your back when sitting or standing.
Keep that back of yours nice and mobile and don’t despair the next time you’re in the physio for your shoulder pain and they spend the whole session working on the middle of your back!