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Mobility: Thoracic Spine and Lumbar

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Having back pain as you get older is an unfortunate commonality, but what can we do to improve and prevent having to accept the “inevitable”? Old age among other reasons such as muscle injuries, disc damage, over usage, bad posture and so on, can cause back pain but the key to this blog is not to react to these situations if/when they happen, but improving mobility in your thoracic spine and lower lumbar to be proactive in minimising the risk of it occurring in the first place.

The thoracic spine refers to the upper and middle section of your back and then the lumbar spine is the vertebrae in the lower part of your back. Here are 4 exercises, 2 targeting each area, (and there are many more too...) that will improve to mobilise your back, improve performance and reduce the risk of pain:

Thoracic Spine

1. Quadruped T-Spine Rotation: start in a kneeling position, on all fours, and sit back to isolate the movement to the middle of the back. Place one hand behind your head and rotate the body inwards, moving your head and elbow towards the opposite hand on the floor. Then rotate the spine and open the chest as far as you can, so that the elbow is towards the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times on each side. 

2. Thoracic Windmill: lie on your side, with your legs on top of one another at a right angle, and your arms straight out to the side. Whilst keeping your legs together and the bottom arm in one position, sweep the top arm above your head and towards your back, whilst rotating through the spine, and opening your chest towards the ceiling. Go as far as you can, as long as you can hold your stale leg position, take a breath, hold for 2-3 seconds, before returning to your starting position. Repeat 8 times on each side. Note: your gaze should follow your arm. 

Lumbar Spine

3. Pelvic Tilts: start in a kneeling position with your hands on the ground, directly below your shoulders. Slowly arch your lower back downwards (extension) as far as you can. Hold for 3 seconds, and then breath before flexing your back towards the ceiling and again hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times. 

4. Knee Rocks: lie down on the ground, with your knees at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the ground. Rock your knees to one side, as far as you can whilst keeping your feet flat, before returning back to the starting neutral position and repeating on the opposite side. Repeat 10-15 times on each side. 

Doing mobility exercises have an endless number of benefits, including improving the natural functionality of the body and ultimately reducing the risk of tight muscles or injuries from playing sports or even just everyday tasks. Personally, my overall sense of health and wellbeing also improves, and I just feel better, lighter and as though everything in the body is working together efficiently and correctly. Just in case you missed my previous mobility focused blogs, take a look for exercises that should cover key points of the body:

All areas of our bodies are interlinked and have an effect on each other, either directly or indirectly, which is why targeting the direct area of weakness is important but also other body parts to ensure the body is functioning as one. There are so many mobility exercises you can do, and also complement them with core and back exercises, as well as foam rolling, to really help the way you feel. 

So, give these exercises a try, and see if they can help make a positive impact on your health and wellness journey. I look forward to hearing your stories :) 

JG x

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Julia Görges


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