If you look at the human body, it’s miraculously designed; almost as if someone divine of massive intelligence designed it. In the context of human movement, one thing that escapes many movers (everyone) is how the joints in our body alternate in their primary functions to either be a stable joint, or a mobile joint. Without this knowledge, when an injury or “tweak” presents itself, it’s quite easy to only try and treat the symptom and not the root issue. In many instances, not all, the reason back pain exists is due to poor hip mobility. The reason neck or shoulder pain exists is because of poor thoracic spine mobility. The reason knee pain exists is due to either lack of ankle or hip mobility.
Remember, the lumbar spine’s role is stability, so be sure to place the foam roller as a fulcrum in your mid back so you can focus on the thoracic spine. I encourage folks to “tuck their butt” like a “dog humping your leg” in order to get your hips posteriorly tilted, which inhibits the low back from substituting thoracic extension. We want to isolate the T-spine. Also support the neck with your hands and tuck your elbows as if you’re about to do a really bad sit-up. From that position, extend over the foam roller for a few reps, and then move up the T-spine an inch, and repeat. Do this until you get to the middle of your shoulder blades. This not only helps with improved mobility, but also posture, especially when combined with the strengthening of your backside.
This not only helps with improved mobility, but also posture, especially when combined with the strengthening of your backside.
There’s probably some fancier name of this drill in yoga-land somewhere, but I call it “elbow to ankle and rotate.” This drill incorporates hip mobility as well as thoracic mobility. What I really like about this drill is it incorporates total body mobility in the back leg’s hip flexor junction, the front leg adductors, hamstrings, glutes, and then mixes in thoracic rotation as well as extension. When you do this drill, be sure to do it for at least 5 reps per side. Interestingly, you’ll notice some asymmetry from side to side, so you may need to do more reps on one side than the other. Rotation may be the type of motion that injures people’s spines the most, so having good hip and thoracic mobility is paramount to a healthy body.
Rotation may be the type of motion that injures people’s spines the most, so having good hip and thoracic mobility is paramount to a healthy body.
This drill encompasses total body mobility. If you lack mobility in the ankles, hips, or thoracic spine, this will be a difficult position to get into; however, it isn’t impossible to improve and eventually get into 2nd image’s position. Sure, if you’ve had surgery, you may never get into the deep position, but working to improve/maintain your end range of motion is always a good thing. The end range in this position is the position we see our children just hanging out in all the time. If you’re an outdoorsman, like me, and nature calls when you’re in the woods, having mobility like this is key!
If you’re an outdoorsman, like me, and nature calls when you’re in the woods, having mobility like this is key!