Thoracic Mobility – The Importance for Shoulder Function

Thoracic Mobility - The Importance for Shoulder Function - Invigorate Health and Performance

When it comes to proper shoulder function, we frequently focus entirely on the shoulder joint itself. However, the thoracic spine contains a significant component of the riddle.

The thoracic spine, or upper and middle back, is critical to shoulder mobility and general upper body movement. This blog article will examine the importance of thoracic spine mobility for proper shoulder function, go through how the shoulder is affected by diminished mobility, provide tips to boost thoracic mobility, and go over risk factors for poor thoracic mobility.

So what actually happens when our Thoracic spine is immobile?

  1. Decreased Shoulder range: Poor thoracic spine mobility prevents the scapulae (shoulder blades) from moving appropriately. As a result, the range of motion of the shoulder joint is reduced, making it difficult to reach overhead, perform pulling actions, or carry out tasks requiring dynamic shoulder stability.
  2. Compensatory movements: When the thoracic spine cannot move properly, the body adjusts its movement patterns as a form of compensation. This adjustment frequently causes undue stress on surrounding structures such as the shoulder joint, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This can eventually result in discomfort, impingements, rotator cuff problems, and even instability in the shoulder.
  3. Postural issues: Poor thoracic mobility may be a factor in postural issues including rounded shoulders and an excessively forwards head position. This in-turn has a negative impact on the surrounding musculature of the neck and shoulders. 

But Nick, how can we improve our Thoracic mobility? Its ok I got you covered:

  1. Thoracic Spine Mobility workouts: Incorporate workouts that target thoracic mobility into your normal training regimen. Examples include foam rolling, thoracic rotations, and cat-cow stretches. These exercises help mobilize the thoracic spine, improving its flexibility and range of motion.
  2. Stretching drills: Practice stretches that concentrate on the upper back, shoulders, and chest. Pec stretches/doorway stretches, upper trapezius stretching, and rhomboid stretching helps relieve tension in the surrounding muscles, allowing for greater thoracic spine movement.
  3. Posture Exercises: Corrective posture exercises can improve thoracic mobility by strengthening the muscles that maintain good posture. Exercises that preserve appropriate alignment, such as rows, reverse flies, and scapular retractions, ease the strain on the shoulder joints and thoracic spine.

Note -> If these provide minimal help then it is most likely a complex issue through the shoulder/thoracic spine. It would be best to seek assistance from your nearest Chiropractor or Physiotherapist 

How the heck do these issues even begin?

  1. Sedentary Lifestyle: Prolonged sitting and lack of movement can contribute to poor thoracic spine mobility.
  2. Lack of Physical Activity: Insufficient exercise and neglecting to engage in activities that promote thoracic mobility can hinder the spine’s flexibility.
  3. Ageing and Degenerative Conditions: As we age, the spine naturally undergoes wear and tear, which can affect its mobility.

What to do now you ask? Let’s quickly summarise:

We’ve gone over the poor habits and behavior’s that can lead to issues with thoracic mobility. If you have noticed that these are behavior’s in your daily life, try to make changes to ensure the condition doesn’t worsen. We have also gone over some simple exercises that will assist mobility and strength. Give these a go and see if symptoms persist.

If they do, don’t hesitate to give us a call or message us on Instagram to book in an appointment!

Written by Nick Dimakis (Chiropractor)