The Thoracic Spine Does Not Always Need Mobility…
So, a big teaching point on the mentorship this week was looking at the importance of the rib cage for thoracic stability.
Now, the thoracic spine has gained a lot of popularity for needing mobility predominantly in articles such as this and this. And we now see all these drills here, there and everywhere on social media designed to get loads and loads of thoracic mobility. And yeah, sure, we need movement through the rib cage; we need movement through all joints, certainly. But one of the biggest and most overlooked functions of the thoracic spine is the stability component, especially in the gym where there are athletes transmitting a lot of forces through the ribcage.
There are also some studies coming out now looking at the importance of the rib cage to decrease compressive forces on the spine, but we also need to consider that there are not enough studies looking at the intercostal muscles as actual force absorbers.
Now, anyone who’s worked in sports, or rugby league and rugby union (I’m sure some of you have), if your athlete has been squatting, or they’ve been deadlifting, and all of a sudden, their back goes into protective spasm or ‘protective’ mode, from my own clinical experience, that once we get that ribcage doing its job, we can change this pain output, and this warning signal (if you want to call it that), very quickly. The thoracic spine and the rib cage will absorb alot of force in picking, pulling, squatting, deadlifting etc, don’t be so quick to, go after mobility with it, but actually, consider it in terms of meaningful movements…
The rib cage and the thoracic spine have to absorb a lot of forces, and in my opinion absorbing forces from the peripheral joints is a key function of this area of the body. So, when the peripheral joints are maybe not dealing with the forces well enough, then I think the thoracic spine and the rib cage will absorb a lot of those errors as well.
So, that’s it for me this week. As always, thanks for reading.
P.S You can request access to 7 Steps To Clinical Excellence below, and I’ll get it straight to you, and you can start learning more about this way of looking at the body, which I’ve used in professional sport and private practice consistently over the last nine years…