Limited thoracic spine (t-spine) mobility can affect the athlete in any sport. However, t-spine mobility has a significant role to play in a sport that requires useful thoracic extension or rotation (ex, swim, golf, baseball, volleyball, and tennis). Limited t-spine mobility decreases the range of shoulder movements, particularly elevation (lifting overhead) by changing the position of the shoulder blade on the rib cage.
Furthermore, changes to lower limb mechanics due to thoracic spine inflexibility can be more elusive than seen in upper limbs. An increased t-spine curve can lead to an increased lumbar spine lordosis (arch) and an anterior pelvic tilt. This t-spine dysfunction changes the forces on the lower limb, which can have particularly detrimental effects in any sports that involve running, jumping, and sprinting.
Give this DWMA Movement Corrective exercise a try to help boost your t-spine mobility and overall performance.
T-Spine Mobility Video Transcript
Hey guys, Mike Bewley here with DWMA’s movement of the week. Today we’re going to talk about T-spine mobility, extremely important for your overhead sports, baseball, volleyball, tennis, and obviously your rotational sports like golf. One of the things we first assess that with is the backward lunge, and then we add in the twist into that movement. Now, once we notice there’s a deficit with that, then what we want to do is how do we correct that? This is one of those exercises that you can do right in the weight room. It’s very, very simple. All you simply need, we are going to use some Airex Pads here. You can certainly use towels, a medicine ball, whatever you have available, but this is one way to improve that extensibility for us to be able to open up in the T-spine.
So first off, just have the athlete laying on their side. Opposite leg is going to be up, and what we want to do is have this knee in line with the hip, or foot I should say, at the bottom of the knee. That’s the proper height that we want to be in terms of having this knee up. That’s the optimum height. Next, depending on the level of mobility of this athlete, you may have to stack these up, but essentially what we want to have the athlete do is press the knee on the pad. This is our starting position. Reach up and out while still engaging. A gentle push or gentle squeeze with the adductors here to engage the core, and then with this opposing arm, reaching to the ceiling, and creating this movement.
The head is going to lean back. You could even support the head to keep the spine and T-spine neutral with another pad here, which makes it much more comfortable and safe, and then reaching to the wall, not to the floor, reaching to the wall, reaching to the ceiling, and holding that position. As the athlete’s mobility improves, you take that away, and ideally you want to get to a point where that athlete can be on the floor to be able to reach back. Obviously I’m not the best at this, but we would want to be able to have … knees on the floor. The athlete can reach all the way back, and reach this hand all the way up. That’s going to be extremely important, again, to have that extensibility, to be able to have that mobility in the T-spine for a lot of your overhead sports, to be able to build that compliancy in the torso on that last instant to be able to create that stiffness that we need, and then be able to finish and rotate through.
By adopting the DWMA system with our exercise builder, coaches will be able to screen an athlete in the same time it takes to do a warmup.