Most people attribute their pain to their neck or their low back, forgetting the important section of their spine in the middle, the thoracic spine.
Got back pain? If you do, you are among the almost 80% of American people who experience back pain at some point in their life. Most people attribute their pain to their neck or their low back, forgetting the important section of their spine in the middle, the thoracic spine. Your thoracic spine is the most stable part of your spine, as it is anchored to your ribs on both sides. However, if it doesn’t have the necessary mobility, it can cause the cervical spine above it and the lumbar spine below it to overwork, leading to pain. Gently working the mobility of the thoracic spine can help relieve and prevent neck and low back pain. Here are a few simple back stretches that can help keep you pain free.
1. Cat/Cow: Begin on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are directly under your hips and your wrists are directly under your shoulders. Cat Pose: Inhale and slowly round your spine toward the ceiling. Focus on pushing up between the shoulder blades while tucking pelvis underneath you, like you’re drawing your pubic bone toward your chest. Exhale and return to neutral. Then slowly reverse for Cow Pose: inhale and draw your chest forward while pulling tailbone to the ceiling, gently arching your back. Look high and forward, but don’t force your neck backward. Repeat 10 – 20 times.
2. Supine Twist: Lie on your back on floor with hips and knees bent to 90 degrees, feet flat. Draw navel toward your spine to engage your lower abs. Slowly rotate knees down toward one side, keeping hips on the ground. Keep low belly in and use obliques to bring legs back up to center, repeat on the other side. Repeat 10-20 times.
3. Child’s Pose: Start in neutral, then exhale as you sit back onto your heels, tucking your chin and lowering your head. Reach arms straight out in front of you. In this position, you can walk the hands to either direction to feel a nice stretch throughout your side body.
4. Rabbit Pose: Start in Child’s Pose, then slowly lower your forehead toward the ground, bringing as close to your knees as possible. Then, reach back and grab your heels, with your thumbs on the outside of you feet. Keeping weight out of your head, slowly lift your hips while you shift forward, rounding into your upper back. Breathe into the space between your shoulder blades. Hold for 5-10 breaths.