Thoracic Spine Mobility: Treatment

by Dr. Brock Vosberg on June 27, 2014

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In our last post, Thoracic Spine Mobility: Evaluation, we looked at how to properly evaluate thoracic spine mobility. Using the Wall Angel we were able to identify deficits in mobility, but how do we go about treating these deficits? Let me first state that the proper treatment plan will be dependent on your doctor’s recommendations based on your clinical presentation and exam. However, we will lay out a few broad treatment strategies for limited thoracic mobility.

Foam Rolling

This is a great way to improve mobility in thoracic spine and thoracic cage. I always tell patients that it is not fun to do at first, and they are going to curse my name the first few times. It gets better! As you continue to roll out the thoracic spine it will quickly be your favorite thing to do after a tough workout or a long day at work.

Tips to rolling:

– Attempt to feel each bone in your spine extend over the foam roller.

– Keep your chin tucked so your neck stays neutral.

– Bring your arms up overhead to get a pec stretch and increase extension in the thoracic spine.

Cat/Camel

A very simple exercise to improve and maintain flexion/extension mobility in the thoracic spine. The traditional Cat/Camel targets the mid-low thoracic spine.

Tips for Cat/Camel:

-Keep your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders.

-Tuck your chin as you arch up.

– Extend your head back as you sink down.

 

Modified Cat/Camel

This is nearly identical to the traditional version but it addresses more of the upper thoracic spine.

Tips for the Modified Cat/Camel:

– Sit back on your heels.

– Bring your elbows to your knees with your hands together.

-Tuck your chin as you arch up.

– Extend your head back as you sink down.

Side Lying Thoracic Extension

The first methods addressed thoracic flexion and extension, and I know you were probably thinking, “Hey guys what about rotation??” Well you are in luck! This is a great exercise to improve both thoracic extension and rotation.

Tips for Side Lying Thoracic Extension:

– Keep a neutral pelvis by keeping the top leg elevated. Your foam roller works great for this.

-Keep your downside arm adhered to the ground.

-Take your upside arm and start with your thumb touching your upside knee.

-Move the upside arm back and over the upside shoulder eventually touching the thumb to the ground.

-Repeat until mobile…then switch sides.

 

3 Point Thoracic Rotation

Another great exercise to further increase thoracic rotation.

Tips for 3 Point Thoracic Rotation:

– 3 points of support: knees under hips, one arm under shoulder, keeping a neutral spine.

-With the other hand on the back of your head point your elbow to the sky.

-Repeat until mobile…then switch sides.

 

If you find your squat (or any movement) is suffering from decreased thoracic mobility these exercises are a great place to start. We encourage you to seek out further assistance from your provider if you are not obtaining the results you are wanting on your own. Keep an eye out for our next post in this series featuring the hip. Until then, continue to work hard, play harder, and expect more, whether on the field or in the office.

Disclaimer: Remember that this series should only serve as an adjunct to your healthcare professionals examination. We are are not your doctors and have not examined you; therefore,  the above should not serve as medical advice. Please do not hold us liable for taking our advice as we have just advised you not to.

 

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