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Mid back pain – Improving the mobility

  • by Dr Notley Chiropractor & Athletic Therapist in Winnipeg

One of the mantra’s I have in my chiropractic office is, “I am here to help you learn how to help yourself”.  This does not mean my treatment is unnecessary but the fact is I may only see you less than an hour a week during your treatment. That’s 1 hour out of 168 hours in a week. You have 167 hours out of the week where you can be involved in your own care. You can give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. You can teach him to fish and he will feed himself for a lifetime. This is why I provide people with the tools to help themselves.

One of the common areas that I find to be a problem in my chiropractic patients is the mid back (the thoracic region).  Often this area can be quite rigid  and a source of pain.  The likelihood is that our slouched posture (thoracic kyphosis) and our lack of movement of the spine during the day is a cause. Think of this highly likely scenario. You wake up, get ready for work, eat breakfast and then you sit in your car for a half hour and drive to work. Then you sit down at work for 4 hours straight staring at your computer screen. If you need to get something out of reach you swivel on your chair to get it.  Then you have your lunch hour where you sit in a chair. The second half of the day is the same as the first. Another half hour home, sit for supper and then sit on the couch.  During all these hours you are sitting and barely moving the mid back. It is immobile and under stress that entire time.  No wonder there are so many people having problems here.  Our body is meant to move.  If we don’t use it, we lose it.

Here are some of the exercises I give my patients to help improve the motion of their mid back.  One exercise may work better for you. Give them all a try.

Sit down on the floor with your knees and hips bent as though you were preparing to do a sit up. Place the foam roller on the ground behind you running right to left. Lay down onto the foam roller. Adjust the foam roller until it is almost to the base of the neck, but not quite at the base. Then actively extend your head and upper back imagine you are trying to pivot around the foam roller. Repeat a few times and then reposition the roller lower down the spine. Repeat until you have covered the entire thoracic spine.Work on doing this exercise daily. Spend about 1 to 5 minutes working on this exercise

Get down on the floor onto your hands and knees.  The thighs should be vertical to the ground.  The hips should remain parallel to the ground the entire time. Your lower back should remain neutral (not rounded or excessively curved.
Say you are going to stretch the right side.  Place the right hand on the back of your head.  Then try and bring the right elbow towards the left knee; your spine is rotating to the left.  Then rotate to the right, returning to the starting position but over shooting and rotating the spine to the right.  Repeat on both sides.  Spend 1 to 6 minutes working on both sides.

If you want to be able to work on your mobility while you are at work and you don’t want to bring a foam roller with you this is a great alternative. Sit on a chair (I prefer the one with rollers) or a therapy ball with your knees nearly touching the wall. With your hands open place them on the wall and your forearms flat on the wall as well.  Rest your head on your hands. Take a breath in then completely relax. Actively bring your chest closer to the wall and image you are allowing your stomach to flop out towards the floor.  With each successive breath try and move a little closer to the wall.  Spend about a minute to five minutes doing this exercise frequently through the day.

Movement is such an important part of the health of our spine.  Start incorporating these exercises into your breaks at work and during your workout routine.

Until next week. Get moving!

Dr Notley
Winnipeg’s only dual credentialed Chiropractor and Athletic Therapist

Originally posted on May 17, 2022 @ 4:40 pm