Poor thoracic spine mobility can have a profound effect on the shoulder joints, neck and lower back. It can lead to movement dysfunction, an increased load and pain in all of these areas. Due to daily habits and sustained poor postures, many of us are prone to poor mobility in the thoracic spine.
To help increase your thoracic spine mobility and improve the alignment of your spine, here are a few basic exercises which you can do daily.
3 Exercises for spine mobility
Book Openings / Thoracic Rotations
Lie on your side with your head on a pillow, both arms out in front of you, and your knees and hips bent to about 45 degrees. Stack each joint directly over the other (ankles, knees, hips and shoulders). Do not let your waist sink/sag into the ground. Lift the top arm up and over your body, reaching in an arc towards the ceiling then over towards the floor behind you. Allow your gaze to follow the hand. Think of leading the movement with your thoracic spine, rotating through the ribcage/torso. Do not force the movement. Concentrate on keeping the pelvis and legs perfectly still, without letting the hips roll back or the top knee lift off. Hold for 2-3 deep breaths and slowly return to the start. Repeat 5 time on each side.
Start on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. Think of lengthening through your spine from the crown of your head to your tailbone. As you exhale, press the hands firmly into the floor and start to round through your upper back. Tuck your tailbone under and draw your navel into your spine. Nod your head down taking your gaze towards your navel. Focus on rounding the thoracic spine / the area in between your shoulder blades, creating a nice c-curve shape. Then, as you inhale, start to uncurl the spine. Stick the tailbone out, arch your upper back and slide your shoulder blades down away from your ears, allowing the chest to open. Take your gaze gently up towards the ceiling. Repeat this sequence 5-10 times, matching the movement to your breath.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and a foam roller (or a rolled up towel) horizontally under your spine, just above your shoulder blades. Support your head in your hands and gently extend/arch your spine over the roller, lowering your head to the floor if you are able. Relax and hold for 3-5 deep breaths. Reposition the roller slightly higher and repeat. Focus on the area of your thoracic spine that feels most stiff or restricted, which is usually in between your shoulder blades.
Get moving with these exercises and see how they improve your spine mobility!
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