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Improving Thoracic Spine (Mid-Back) Mobility

Improving Thoracic Spine (Mid-Back) Mobility

One of the most commonly-experienced impacts of sitting for long periods of time is discomfort and limited mobility in your mid-back. Here, our Orleans physiotherapists explain what kinds of active physiotherapy treatments we prescribe to patients in order to improve their mobility in their thoracic spine.

Reduced mobility and discomfort in the middle of your back is a common complaint for clients who work at a computer desk all day. Not only can reduced mobility in your thoracic spine be uncomfortable for many people, it can also be a sign of a growing injury. If not properly addressed, it may become a more serious issue down the road.

What Is the Thoracic Spine?

Your spine is divided into 3 sections, the cervical, thoracic and lumbar. In order, these describe your neck, mid-back and lower back. 

The thoracic spine is not only the longest portion of your smile, it is an incredibly important part of your body. Your thoracic spine is made up of 12 vertebrae and is attached to your ribcage. This part of your spine is responsible for a lot of your abdomen's mobility along three different planes: rotation, extension or flexion and side flexion. 

What Causes a Loss of Mobility in My Thoracic Spine?

The loss of mobility, showing as stiffness, in your thoracic spine is often caused by long periods of sedentary behaviour, often by sitting for long periods of time. This can be in front of a computer, television or anything else that may cause you to sit for long periods in a day or over multiple days. 

While lifestyle and career demands may mean that we don't have much of a choice about how much sedentary time we spend in the day, there are many ways to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on your thoracic spine's mobility.

Exercises to Improve Thoracic Spine Mobility

Our Orleans physiotherapists are able to offer a number of different treatments for patients reporting stiffness and a lack of mobility in their thoracic spine. These treatments can include both passive and active physiotherapy methods. 

Passive physiotherapy for this issue may include hot packs applied to the muscles of your back as well as massage therapy to help loosen stiffness and tightness. Active physiotherapy treatments are activities or exercises prescribed by our physical therapists to help restore mobility. 

The following are some examples of exercises that we may prescribe to our patients at Motion Works Physiotherapy Orleans if they are reporting reduced thoracic spine mobility:

Always way for a physiotherapists' prescription fo an exercise before engaging injured, pained, or stiff muscles. If you attempt exercises or activities without consulting your physiotherapist, you may cause yourself further injury and pain!

"Thread The Needle"

Begin on all fours, ensuring that your hands are directly beneath your shoulder and your knees are under your hips. As you exhale, reach one of your hands under the opposite arm as far as possible, allowing your thoracic spine to rotate as you do so. From there, inhale and rotate to the opposite side, bringing your arm up vertical and opening your chest. 

Repeat this exercise 10-15 times, alternating which arm you rotate. 

Foam Roller Thoracic Extensions

Place a foam roller beneath your back at the level of your mid-back. arch through your mid-back and gradually move the roller from the top to the bottom of your scapula in order to target different parts of your spine. 

Repeat this exercise 5 times.

Cat-Cow Pose

Starting on all fours, make sure your hands are directly beneath your shoulders and that your knees are beneath your hips. 

To perform the cat pase, exhale and round your mid-back, lifting your ribs to the sky and allow your head and neck to relax.

To transition to cow pose, inhale and lift your head and chest forward while sinking your stomach to the floor. 

Transition from one of these poses to the other 10-15 times.

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