Movement does not happen in a vacuum. In life, and Pilates, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
People often complain about neck or lower back pain, but neglect to consider the spinal connection between these parts of the body. When working with clients with cervical and lumbar discomfort, the middleman of the clients’ issue - the thoracic spine – must be addressed.
Rarely do people stop to think about the health of the thoracic spine until it’s too late. Let’s build a better understanding of the thoracic and movements that aid in maintaining healthy thoracic vertebrae.
Nothing Only Happens in the Thoracic
The thoracic spine resides in your upper back, below your cervical vertebrae (C1-C7) and above your lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5). The twelve vertebrae of your thoracic spine are heavily influenced by the action and articulation of the surrounding vertebrae.
The thoracic is the middle child of the spine, frequently ignored, but just as important.
You cannot have shift and compression in the curvature of your neck or lumbar and expect your thoracic not to react. The thoracic is moody and unique by skeletal design.
A Healthy Thoracic Spine Helps You Breathe Better
The thoracic spine has more vertebrae than any other section of the spine. These 12 vertebrae play an important role in connecting the spine and ribs through costal facets. Between the ribs and costal facets, a joint is formed that allows the thoracic spine to articulate with the ribs.
How The Ribs Assist With Breathing
The ribs house the diaphragm, our respiration muscle, below the lungs. When you breathe in, the chest enlarges as the diaphragm contracts to pull air into your lungs. For the ribs to move, the facet joints must have mobility. The best way to maintain mobility in the joints is to maintain a healthy, decompressed spine above and below.
The Thoracic Has the Largest Set of Muscles that Aid in Rotation
The rotatores muscles are part of the deep layer of intrinsic back muscles that span the length of our spine. Eleven sets of rotatores, 22 in total, run along our thoracic vertebrae, surpassing the number on any other spinal section.
The rotatores weave together with the multifidus in a lattice structure to attach onto the ribs. This attachment allows the deep intrinsic back muscles, ribs, and thoracic spine to join in on the fun of producing extension, lateral flexion (side bending), rotation (twisting) and assist in postural alignment.
Strengthening the thoracic and rotatores will improve posture and allow for a greater range of rotational movement and stability.
The Thoracic Spine Supports Your Shoulders
The thoracic spine supports the rib cage, the rib cage supports the shoulder girdle, therefore the thoracic spine supports BOTH.
The shoulder girdle rides atop the shape of the thoracic spine. Yes, your shoulder blades are connected to the spine and aid the movement of the upper back, but they do not initiate or make thoracic extension or flexion happen. The shoulder girdle is there to keep your arms attached to your skeleton. Check out my YouTube video for an in depth explanation of the shoulder to thoracic connection.
Let’s Strengthen the Range of Our Thoracic
My fellow movers, shakers and educators, come build a stronger thoracic in my #FBomb Thoracic Tower Workout and Workshop!
The workshop will use the bars and springs on the Tower / Spring Board to get everything we can out of our upper bodies.
You can join the #FBomb Thoracic Tower Workshop LIVE on June 11th or purchase a replay that is available for 365 days after the event. That’s right friends, a FULL YEAR to experience the workout and see how much your thoracic range improves!
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