For many people, the source of their back pain begins in the lumbar spine or the cervical spine, located in the lower back and neck regions respectively. So how can mobility exercises help manage pain in the thoracic spine? Staying in a sedentary position for most of the day can be detrimental to musculoskeletal health and cause stiffness in the thoracic spine. With daily exercises for 10 – 20 minutes, you can promote long-term improvements and strengthen the thoracic area of your back.
If you have poor thoracic mobility, you can perform the following exercises to improve thoracic rotation and extension. Do keep in mind that changing your posture will take time and consistency so make these mobility exercises a daily habit:
- Peanut or Foam Roller Extension: Set a P-knott, peanut, or foam roller on the floor and lay on it, perpendicular to your mid-back. Bend your knees with your butt and keep your feet on the ground while crossing your arms over your chest. You can also opt to place your hands behind your head to support the neck. Sit up slightly and crunch your abs to extend your T-spine over the foam roller. Repeat this while keeping your abs engaged and your ribs in line with your hips.
- Cat-Cow Stretch: The cat-cow stretch, sometimes called cat-camel, is an exercise borrowed from yoga which can help the entire spine move as one unit. Begin by kneeling on an exercise mat with your knees and feet a hip-width apart, keeping the toes pointed towards the body. Lean forward and place your hands on the mat, positioning them directly under the shoulders at shoulder-width. Gently stiffen your abs to hold your spine in a flat position. Once you’re ready, exhale and contract your abdomen as you push your spine towards the ceiling like a shocked cat. Hold this pose for 10-15 seconds and let your head fall towards the chest to maintain the spine’s alignment. Now, inhale and let your stomach fall to the floor so the arch of the lower back increases. Hold the cow pose for another 10-15 seconds and allow the shoulder blades to fall towards the spine before returning to a neutral position.
- Bench T-Spine Stretch: The bench T-spine stretch will require you to have a PVC pipe. Kneel in front of a box or a bench and hold onto the pipe as you keep your arms in a “V” position. This means you have to keep your elbows together while you sit back on your heels and drop your chest to the ground. Bend the elbows to pull up the PVC pipe behind your head and take 5 deep breaths in and out. Lower your ribs and reverse the motion to repeat.
- Wall Angel : The wall angel exercises can improve your T-spine extensions while minimizing the movement of the lumbar spine. Find a wall and press your heels, tailbone, upper back, and head towards it. Keep your chin tucked in as you raise your elbows to a 90-degree angle. The elbows and the back of your hands should be touching the wall as well. Raise your arms until the shoulders elevate but don’t allow the shoulders to hike past your ears. Make sure that your repetitions are slow and controlled so your body maintains contact with the wall.
For any assistance please contact SOS Physio.