Exercise is good for the heart and body but so is learning how to move well. If your typical routine includes skipping a warm-up or cool-down reconsider by adding a few simple exercises into your routine to potentially improve spinal mobility and reduce pain and stiffness throughout the body.
Today we are going to focus on thoracic mobility which is something that is often overlooked in our daily activities of sitting, slouching forwards, while we are driving, texting and/or at a computer.
The Thoracic spine is essentially the part of your spine from your neck to the lower back that consists of 12 vertebrae and plays an important role in posture and how well the upper body moves. The next time you feel like your shoulders or neck are tight reconsider simply stretching them and these exercises into your routine.
I can say that I perform each of these moves at least 4-7 times a week for one set of 30 seconds. Because I also own a car, text daily, and type away at my computer for blog posts like these I need someway to intentionally fight the forward movement of my spine to prevent conditions like kyphosis, less low back pain and promote healthier shoulders and reduce stiffness.
Here are three must have exercises to stay mobile and move well.
This exercise is great for thoracic mobility and spinal extension. Start by leaning against a foam roller at about your shoulder blades and place the hands behind the head. Extend back over the roller keeping the bottom touching the mat. DO NOT place the roller under the low back.
Pause and hold for an inhale and then come back to your starting position. You can adjust the roller an inch or two so it targets different areas that may be tight and stiff. Repeat 10x total.
Start by lying on your right side placing something underneath your head for support. Pull your top knee up to about a 90 degree angle ( belly button height). Take the bottom arm and place it on that top knee. Bend your underneath leg back behind you and attempt to grab the ankle if your body allows. If not, you can always use a yoga strap or towel.
Take a deep breath in and on your exhale rotate your left shoulder toward the ground while pressing your right knee down. Hold for 30 seconds.
Repeat on the other side.
Hip flexor stretch with rotation.
Start in a half kneeling position with your right leg forward. Shift the weight forward slightly and squeeze your glutes. Take your left hand down to the ground and reach your right arm vertical toward the ceiling. Think of pressing into the left hand to gently increase the rotation, hold for an inhale and then take that right hand underneath the left arm like shown in the picture and repeat. Repeat 5 times on each side.