thoracic spine

thoracic spine (mid back)

As humans we are designed to be hunters and gatherers, our bodies are not designed to be sitting all day. From home to car/public transport, sitting at work all day, sitting having lunch, back home probably involving sitting again and then plumping ourselves in front of the telly to sit yet more hours and then it is off to bed.

One part of the body where I often have to prescribe mobilization work is the mid back (the thoracic spine). Many clients could do with more rotation there. Sometimes our movement becomes restricted due to how we sit. For example it could be that you are always stuck in front of the computer hunched over for hours on end. If you are always in the same position, the body has to adapt to it.

The thoracic spine is where the spine connects with the ribs, it is made up of 12 vertebrae. The 2 main movements of the thoracic spine are rotation and bending to the side (lateral flexion). It aids in moving the spine in all directions at varying degrees. As well as this it is used when we breathe. When the movement in the thoracic spine is not sufficient the body requires to find another way to perform the movement (compensation). Due to the lower back (lumbar spine) being connected to the mid back, poor movement can result in the lower back overworking.  This, in turn, can potentially contribute to  lower back pain or discomfort. There can also be an influence on the shoulders with excess movement created in the scapula (shoulder blade) giving the feeling of tension.

When we screen the thoracic spine we are looking at how well you can rotate. In my experience most of my clients are lacking in this movement. Like with all my advice, moving about regularly is a good place to start.

I also have these exercises that you can use to improve your own thoracic spine:

Sitting on a chair with your feet planted on the floor. Hands on shoulders. Rotate your upper body from side to side. Try it 12 times each side a few times throughout the day.


seated mid back 1seated mid back 2

Lie on your back,  knees bent, feet flat on the floor. With feet and knees together rotate the lower body to the side. Only go so far as your shoulder blades stay on the ground and then return. Repeat to the other side. Try it 12 times each side a few times throughout the day.

lying mid back 1lying mid back 2


Author: Lorna Wilson

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