Thoracic spine pain is common, your daily posture may be an influence. Read why!
Thoracic Pain - a perspective from our physio
I used to believe treating the thoracic spine (middle back) was relatively straight forward. Release some muscles, mobilise some joints and give your patient a few stretches and bam they’re healed. But then they come back only a short time later presenting with the same issues – tight musculature, stiff joints and poor strength and mobility. Why?
POSTURE! We used to be hunters and gatherers. We used to be upright and extended in nature and wander the outdoors. We used to spend more time on our feet and less on our arse. Today it’s more about hands on the keyboard and eyes on the screen for very long periods of time. Our lives are dictated by computers, televisions, mobile phones and video games. We do this all from sitting. With spending such long periods of time doing these activities we tend to adapt a posture that is not optimal for us as humans. In some people this can cause pain, particularly in the neck and thoracic spine. Now the pain is not neccessarily related to damaging tissues, it is more the body screeming out to be upright and use it's muscles, rather then sit on passive structures such as joints and ligaments. Stress of these structures can signal nociception and our brain then perceives this as pain and the alarm bells begin to ring!
The most common posture I see today is a rounded shoulder, poked chin posture. As soon as one sits and rounds through their thoracic spine their head lowers and eyes look towards the floor. Naturally to fix the problem and be able to see straight ahead we lift our heads from the neck, creating a poked chin. What we should be doing is starting from the source – correct the movement in the thoracic spine to counteract secondary effects in the neck.
My earlier treatment techniques of releasing tight muscles, loosening stiff joints, strengthening the weaknesses and moving correctly are not wrong, they just need to be combined with techniques to improve postural habits and must invove strength training. I know some cool techniques to do just that so if you are suffering from thoracic pain and find yourself behind a computer most of the day come on in and see Jayme!