Mobility of April: T-Spine

For our mobility focus this month, we are going to focus on the t-spine.

What is the t-spine?

T-spine is short for thoracic spine which is your upper, mid back and the ribs.

Why are we focusing on this?

Well, do you slump your shoulders when you walk, sit or stand? Do you have a hard time keeping your chest up nice and tall on front squats or when pulling off the floor? Do you get a stiff neck after we do KBS or rotational movements? Shoulder pain in the middle of the night when you sleep?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you probably have poor t-spine mobility.

After the hips, the t-spine and front shoulders are the most crucial when speaking of mobility and moving correctly and safely in the gym.

Our spine is composed of 4 different segments:

  1. Cervical spine – neck to the base of the skull

  2. Thoracic spine – shoulders, chest, ribs; mid to upper back

  3. Lumbar spine – lower back

  4. Pelvic – which is the tail bone

The t-spine is made for rotation, flexing and extending. It SHOULD be rather mobile and not “hunchy”. Where as the the lumbar spine is made for stability. It is supposed to support weight of the body (and any additional weight), and RESIST rotation and twisting. This part of our backs is supposed to be strong and stable to help the hips generate power!

Generally any back pain you feel stems from an immobile t-spine because the rest of the spine is overcompensating for a tight/immobile thoracic spine. Most people don’t know they have a tight or immobile t-spine because we sit hunched over all day and don’t really see the use in having a “flexible” upper back...until you get to CrossTraining class and realize you have a bad front rack, cant keep your chest up on squats or deadlifts. This is a large reason why injuries happen.

Benefits of mobilizing these areas this month?

  1. Improved posture and strength in this area.

  2. Less pain, less injury in your back.

  3. Healthier shoulders as your scaps wont be so stressed out with less rounded shoulders and shoulder impingement.

  4. Better range of motion overhead.

  5. More efficient, safer and stronger lifts.

Exercises You'll See in Warm Up and Finishers

1. T-Spine Smash

2. T-Spine OH Smash

3. Banded Overhead Distraction

4. OH with External Rotation

5. Banded Bully

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