Today highlighting another mobility exercise, this time with focus on the thoracic spine and shoulder
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As mentioned in previous posts, the health and function of the shoulder girdle is very much dependent upon the overall posture and mobility of the thoracic spine; if the thoracic region is immobile, then the shoulderblade is not able to glide efficiently over the back of the ribcage. This in turn affects how well the muscles and tendons of the shoulder joint are able to move and bear load️♂️
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Many cases of shoulder impingment, for example, are caused/exacerbated by an increases kyphosis of the thoracic spine and/or rounded shoulder posture. The result is less area for the tendons of the rotator cuff (infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis) and the biceps (long head) to slide and glide between the bony surfaces of the upper arm and the acromion - they are basically sandwiched between. This can lead to increased risk for ”pinching” and, over time, a vicious cycle of inflammation
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The following exercise increases flexibility of the thoracic spine in rotation + extension, as well as provides a stretch to the front of the shoulder joint, capsule and associated tendons. It especially targets the biceps, which may otherwise be hard to stretch. Please note that any kind of stretching should be followed by strengthing exercises in order to maintain mobility gains
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Begin prone, arms out to sides and in line with shoulders, palms facing down. Ribs are closed and abdominals pulling gently in and together, lifting away from floor. Place one hand close to armpit; cross the same side leg over, reaching toward the other side of the body. At the same time, press away with hand, helping to rotate upper back.
Allow opposite (straight) arm to slide slightly along floor, and head to follow rotation of torso. A stretch should be felt through the front of the shoulder/chest and upper back. Abdominals should be engaged throughout tp avoid taking rotation in lumbar spine (low back). Alternate sides.
For those with very stiff shoulders/thoracic spines: make easier by omitting crossover of leg. Tag someone who could benefit!