Your thoracic spine, which runs from the back of your neck to the bottom of your rib cage, plays a huge roll in your motion and function…much larger than people think.
The thoracic spine needs a proper amount of extension and rotation for you to do activities such as looking behind you, reaching up, lifting from the ground, and carrying something heavy with both arms. If the thoracic spine lacks the mobility, your low back and shoulders have to try to pick up the motion, resulting in injury or pain to the areas.
In the shoulders, I typically see overuse injuries in the muscles due to them needing to work in ways they shouldn’t have to in order to get full shoulder elevation or impingement of the muscles causing a pinch when reaching overhead. Restoring proper thoracic mobility allows improved shoulder position and posture for improved mechanics, therefore reducing risk of injury.
In the lumbar spine, a stiff upper back is what frequently leads to disc and joint problems in the lower back. If the upper back isn’t moving well, the low back needs to increase its motion for you to function, placing increased stress on the joints. This increased stress over time results in joint degeneration, disc degeneration, and disc bulges.
Want some ideas on how to mobilize your thoracic spine, check out these videos from previous posts: