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Thoracic spine mobility, details that matters!

Updated: Apr 14

by Monica Lita

Bones are hard tissues, while muscles, tendons, ligaments, connective fascia, nerves, and blood vessels are soft tissues. The human body can experience both compressive and tensile stress simultaneously. Logically and ideally, when moving bone tissue in a certain direction, the soft tissue should follow (as per the laws of deformation).

From an evolutionary standpoint, our bodies have adapted to specific tensile stress patterns of soft tissues to meet certain physical demands, we can't ignore these adaptations.

To achieve proper thoracic spine range capacity, FLEXION must be trained first. Without thoracic flexion, rotation will also be limited. There is no architectural rationale for exacerbating T-spine EXTENSION training.

Unfortunately, many Instagram training educational posts focus only on extension and rotation, without a logical approach and thought process. Consider these points:

1. (1st Pic) Observe how the spinous processes run more vertically towards the next vertebrae below. At certain ranges of motion (ROMs), extension will be limited due to a "bone on bone" jam.

2. (2nd Pic) See how superior and inferior articular facets connect. The shape of these bone extremities limits extension, requiring the inferior part of the capsule to be "pulled apart" and rotated to increase the deformation of the capsule membrane's fibers.

3. (3rd Pic) Note how superior and inferior costal facets connect to the corpus. Thoracic flexion promotes separation between ribs and intercostal muscles, increasing their length. Proper length in these muscles allows for better expansion of the thoracic cage during breathing.

4. (4th, 5th Pic) Observe how the connective tissue ("white stuff") runs and builds the T-spine and the direction of the fibers. This is a perfect evolutionary architecture that also promotes flexion capacity. As mentioned earlier, bone extremities need separation/flexion to create directionality and increase flexibility in all connective tissues that compose the thoracic spine.

Understanding these points is crucial when considering Instagram training educational posts that primarily emphasize extension and rotation without a logical approach. Prioritizing thoracic flexion is essential for ensuring a healthy range of motion and overall spinal health.

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