The mid back (thoracic spine) is an area of the spine that most people struggle to articulate. The thoracic spine in most individuals consist of 12 vertebra. The transverse processes of the thoracic vertebra is where the ribs attach so a person’s inability to move their mid spine will most likely have a negative effect on the mechanics of the rib cage which will result in inhibited breathing…
As well as breathing the thoracic spine has a direct functional relationship with lumbar spine (lower back). The are many reasons why back pain can come about but a common reason from a mechanical perspective is when the mid back doesn’t have the capacity to move fully. If the facet joints of the thoracic spine don’t have the ability to move at full range when they need to it can result in excessive movement at the lower back.
Where there is lack of movement, there will be excessive movement somewhere else in the body to compensate.
This excessive movement can eventually result in wear and tear so it’s important that all areas of the body move well. Not just for the sake of movement but also so those areas can stabilise properly too.
Getting Your Mid Back Moving
Your thoracic spine has the ability to move in all planes of motion (some more than others). Rotation is the thoracic spine’s speciality (roughly 45-57 degrees of rotation is possible at the facet joints). From my experience when assessing clients, the mid spine’s capacity to rotate is normally lacking. This results in a person compensating with excessive rotation at the lumbar spine (not designed for too much rotation) and too much movement of the scapula on the ribcage – a great opportunity for shoulder tension!
Below are 3 exercises that do a good job at ‘isolating’ the mid back during rotation. Why do we want to try to just exclusively rotate from the mid spine? So you can better rotate at your mid spine!
Spine Rotation With Pole
It’s very popular these days to only do full body integrated movements when exercising. The argument here is that the movements of the body in most sports and day to day activities are integrated. This totally makes sense and the end goal should be to make sure that all the different parts of the body can synchronise and work together. How ever if a certain area of the body just isn’t performing optimally (for example the facet joints of the mid spine not moving enough), there is a lot of value in isolating that area to improve it’s function. Once the area is working better then you can go back to integrated exercises with all areas of the body supporting each other.
There is definitely other arguments and perspectives on this matter so if you have a different opinion please comment below or message me to add to the discussion 🙂
Thanks for reading guys and I look forward to continuing this discussion with you 🙂
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