Over the previous several weeks we have focused on exercises to improve your overall stability. For this next series, we will focus on exercises to help you increase your mobility. Mobility is a critical component of movement, and complements stability by allowing the necessary motion at your joints.
We will start with thoracic mobility. The ability to adequately extend, flex, and rotate the thoracic spine is important in several basic movements, including full body rotation and a squat. One way to assess your thoracic mobility is to get into a position on your knees, with your hips back towards your feet. Place one hand behind your back, and the other elbow directly under you in the center of your chest. Rotate your torso upwards as far as you can. You should be able to rotate at least 50 degrees to each side in this position. If you cannot do it on your own, it may be either a stability or a mobility issue. The way to determine this is to have someone assist you to see if they can get you to rotate a little further; this will determine if you are lacking in actual thoracic mobility or just the stability to obtain the position. If with someone’s assistance you are still unable to reach 50 degrees, this is a thoracic mobility issue.
You can use this assessment as an exercise as well. In this position, move in and out of a full rotation, repeating at least 10 times on each side. You should find that you are able to get a little further each time. You should feel a stretch with this and no sharp pain.
Stay tuned for other ways to improve your thoracic mobility over the next couple weeks.