Thoracic Spine Exercises

Strengthen and stretch the thoracic spine to rehabilitate and prevent injuries. Thick muscles, tendons and ligaments attach the twelve vertebrae of the midback, also known as the thoracic spine, to each other, the ribs, the shoulder blades and the vertebra of the neck and lower back. Perform exercises tailored to eliminate the source of specific injuries by strengthening weaker areas and elongating tight muscles.

Cat-Cow Stretch: Assume a kneeling position on both hands and both knees. Exhale and vacuum your waist. Raise your midback as high as possible, as if imitating a cat stretching its back. Hold for two to six seconds, inhale and slowly lower your midback as far as possible. Hold for two to six seconds. Repeat for six to fifteen repetitions to stretch the muscles of your midback and ribcage.

Midback Stretch: Stand with your feet close to a vertical bar and grab the bar with both hands. Exhale, straighten your arms, bend your knees and stretch backward until you feel a comfortable pull between your shoulder blades. Hold this position for twenty to sixty seconds. Perform three sets at multiple side-to-side and up-and-down angles to stretch the muscles between the shoulder blades at various angles.

Bird Dog Exercise: Assume a kneeling position on both hands and both knees. Hold your neck in line with your spine. Raise your left arm directly in front of you and hold for two seconds. Lower and repeat with the right arm. Alternate arms for six to fifteen repetitions.

Inhale and flex your right hip and knee toward your chest. Exhale extend your hip and knee directly behind you in a straight position and hold for two seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg. Alternate legs for six to fifteen repetitions. 

Once you have mastered the single arm and single leg motions you can combine the two movements. Simultaneously raise your left arm and right leg. Hold for two seconds then lower them. Raise the right arm and leg left and hold for two seconds. Perform six to fifteen repetitions to simultaneously reestablish correct movement patterns and strengthen the thoracic spine.

Resisted Scapular Retraction: Wrap a resistance band around a secure structure. Wrap the rope or band around both hands and grip it firmly. Stand with your toes close to the pole and straighten your arms with your palms facing each other. Lean backwards slightly until you feel resistance in the band. Exhale and pinch your shoulder blades together without shrugging your shoulders. Hold for two to six seconds, then inhale and relax. Perform six to fifteen repetitions to develop strength, stability and endurance in the scapula retractor muscles.

Disclaimer: Always consult a medical professional before beginning an exercise program. Always work within your capabilities. Never perform an exercise that elicits or increases pain or symptoms.

Dr Donald A Ozello DC of Championship Chiropractic in Las Vegas, NV

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**Disclaimer: Always consult a medical professional before beginning an exercise program. Always work within your capabilities. Never perform an exercise that elicits or increases pain or symptoms. Reading this article and viewing the linked videos does not take the place of seeing a medical professional. Please visit a medical professional for evaluation, diagnosis & treatment.

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