photo credit: http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/back-exercises/jacked-back-workout
Thoracic spine mobility has been spoken about for awhile now. It is important for healthy function of the cervical and lumbar spines, as well as the hips and upper extremities. When it comes to rotational sports, it can be a "make or break" area in regards to injury reduction and performance.
photo credit: en.wikipedia.org
This post isn’t to talk about a new drill or technique to improve your thoracic spine mobility. We are here to discuss how to make your mobility drills more effective so that you aren’t wasting your time. More often than not, people perform this drills incorrectly and aren’t getting the most out of their time.
Here are 3 Ways to Maximize your Thoracic Spine Mobility Drills:
1. Lock Out Your Lumbar Spine!
One area that is often overlooked is the position of the lumbar spine when it comes to thoracic spine mobility work.
Why does it matter what’s going on at the lumbar spine? Well, it matters a lot! If you are not stabilizing your lumbar spine when performing thoracic spine mobility work, you aren’t getting the most bang for your buck. If anything, you could be potentially irritating lumbar spine structures.
Well, the lumbar spine isn’t made to perform a lot of rotation. Depending on where you look, the common consensus is that the lumbar spine vertebrae do not rotate much at all. The majority of rotation should occur at the thoracic spine and the hips. If you are consistently rotating through the lumbar spine, either under load or for high repetitions, this can irritate certain structures.
So, when performing thoracic spine rotation drills, make sure to have your knee at OR above the height of the hips to ensure that the lumbar spine is not rotating.
Side-lying Thoracic Rotation
Side-lying Rib Roll
2. Turn your Abs On!
If you are not performing a drill such as the Side-lying Thoracic Rotation or Side-lying Rib Roll as mentioned before, there are other various drills that are also effective at improving thoracic spine mobility.
Drill such as:
Bench T-Spine Mobilizations
A-Frame Thoracic Spine Mobilization
If you are performing drills such as these where the knees are NOT above hip height, then we need to make sure the abdominal musculature is ON!
For example, with the Bench T-Spine Mobilizations, we want to make sure the ribs stay down towards the belt line and that the mobility is coming from the thoracic spine and shoulders, not the lumbar spine.
With the A-Frame Thoracic Spine Mobilization, by placing the forearm between the knees and squeezing the forearm with the knees, we are activating the deep core stabilizing musculature of the trunk to make sure the mobility is coming from the proper areas.
3. Use Your Eyes!
Now, when it comes to mobility work, not many people think of using their eyes to improve their mobility. But, the eyes can play a major role in the effectiveness of the drill.
For example, with the Sidelying Thoracic Extension drill:
The eyes help to drive rotation of the rest of the upper body to maximize the mobility. If you don’t look while rotating, it can limit the amount of rotation.
It can also do is place adjacent joints in sub-optimal positions. For example, just allowing your thoracic spine to rotate can cause an increase in anterior humeral glide at the glenohumeral joint.
By allowing this increase in anterior humeral glide as shown in the video, it can place increased strain on the anterior capsule of the shoulder and biceps tendon. Those areas can be placed under a lot of stress by other movements so avoiding positions that could potentially irritate them would be ideal.
So, when performing your thoracic spine mobility drills, lock out your lumbar spine, turn your abs on, and use your eyes!
Here I will be writing and posting about topics ranging from physical therapy, injury prevention/reduction, and strength and conditioning.