Perhaps one of the more under-appreciated aspects of mobility amongst the general public, you often hear people complain of their lower back being stiff, they can’t move their neck or shoulders in the way that they used to, but often the middle man, or should I say the middle back is neglected.
The thoracic spine produces so much more motion than our lower back, put in numbers our thoracic spine should be able to rotate approximately 45-50 degrees, whereas our lumbar spine are only designed to rotate 10-15 degrees. Therefore, if we’re stiff and immobile through our middle back we are forced to find this motion elsewhere. Typically, the lower back is what picks up the slack, the excess load can potentially lead to injury and postural strain on the body.
Another great example is the coupling of shoulder motion and thoracic rotation and extension. Have you ever tried to throw a ball without moving your spine? We lose massive amounts of functional speed, power and often accuracy on simply throwing a ball without the aid of rotation through our upper and middle back
Why have I lost so much mobility?
The population is leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Let’s think about how much time we spend stuck in a seated position of the average desk worker. We wake up, we sit down for breakfast, we sit down to go to the bathroom, we go and sit down to drive the car or sit on the bus, we haven’t even made it to work yet and for some people an hour of sitting may have occurred. Then of course we sit at our desks for the best part of 8 hours and you probably sit down to eat lunch too. After sitting again for the drive home, you might go and sit on the couch and relax, play on your phone or laptop and sit down to eat dinner. Assuming you’re not doing any exercise after dinner you sit down before bed spending time with family or in front of the tv. We’ve now hit about 15 hours of sitting in the same position.
Being stiff throughout your middle back can have implications on day to day to things such as breathing and sleeping, therefore this can have a domino effect on metabolic health, healing and even food digestion. Your ribs have direct attachments to your thoracic spine, every time you breath in and out your chest expands and extends, if we are so stiff through our thoracic spine that you have lost that extension your lungs are likely not able to hold its capacity of air which then can affect all forms of exercise.
What can I do to help myself?
It can be as simple as changing your position every half an hour, doesn’t have to be for long 30 seconds to 2 minutes can be enough to break the habit and give yourself a better posture at work or at home. Come in and visit our amazing osteopaths for an assessment and we can help treat your discomfort with hands on techniques as well as guide you through some simple stretches, mobility exercises and strengthening exercises. Or you can book into out Pilates classes in Wodonga.
Check out some of the exercise you can do at home via out Youtube channel