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Training the Spine

Whilst the Lumbar spine receives most press about its relevance to human anatomy and function, it's 'lesser' known cousin the Thoracic spine holds the key to unlocking spinal potential for performance and low back pain health/rehab.

From: Paul Edmondson

Low back pain is a condition that plagues many western adults (some 80% during lifetime) and the lumbar spine is the 'site' of this manifestation of breakdown.
Now where you have pain is 99.9% of the time the 'symptom' of pain NEVER the cause of pain, and a common consideration is to do planks, brace techniques, dead bugs etc, but that's treating the symptom and not addressing the REAL problem.

Because the human organism is a fully integrated and complex system it behooves us to look/assess the whole body Globally in motion, before zoning in on the local cause of breakdown. Common sites being Foot and Ankle, Hips and as we are introducing the Thoracic Spine.

The Thoracic Spine is the segment above the Lumbar, with 12 vertebral bony segments, multiple muscles and ligaments and Facet Joints that had an orientation about them that favour this 'complex' to perform rotational tasks.

The better conditioned, appreciated and trained this 'powerhouse' of a segment (Thoracic) in terms of its movement potentials and capabilities the more able it is to offset many wear/tear and load bearing stresses.

So how do we do that?....The Thoracic spine listens to information above and below (like any other joint), so if I adopt a program that uses lower body drivers of the feet/legs as in squatting/lunging this feeds authentic enrichment to this complex keeping it functioning well (side note- variation of foot positions in squatting and 3 dimensionalising your lunges has more 'bang for buck') as well as arm drivers as in reaching/swinging like we do everyday in life (again variations of reaches, back and forth, side to side and rotate in both directions- the fun really happens when you combine motions "coupling or even troupling"- two dimensions or three dimensions at the same time). When reaching as part of training commonly I see bent arms driving the motion which impedes the 'tensional' demand on the thoracic spine therefor limits its potential to contribute to the motion, so try to keep 'long' arms when reaching and 'lift' the ribcage to facilitate the tensioning through the thoracic cage and therefor train its full potential.

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