One definition of posture is the position in which someone holds his or her body when standing or sitting. Somewhere along the line we’ve added the qualification of “good” or “bad” when it comes posture. We’re all built a little differently so I believe it is safe to say that if you’re experiencing physical pain or discomfort chances are you’re suffering from some kind of bad posture. These days much of that can be blamed on sitting too much in a hunched forword position. This position tends to adversely affect the T-Spine.
The T-Spine, also known as the thoracic spine, is the longest part of our spine. It has 12 vertebrae, and joins the cervical section of spine that is above the T-spine with the lumbar spine below. Essentially, the T-spine runs from the base of the neck to the abdomen. It is the only part of the spine that attaches to the rib cage. Its role is to protect the spinal cord, and anchor the rib cage. Different from the cervical and lumbar parts of the spine that are built for mobility, the thoracic spine is built more for stability.
While it is not as common as neck or lower back pain, we can experience pain in the region of the T-spine. The main causes tend to be as a result of the neck-jutting forward, or the carrying of heavy backpacks (this is more common for children - some of those backpacks are bigger than them). As with any type of pain it’s best to avoid it in the first place. Introduce preventative measures in our lifestyles such as avoiding the causes of the problem in the first place and/or keeping the T-spine strong. Here are some ideas:
• Implement changes to your sitting habits. When possible, stand, sit on the floor, or sit on a exercise ball.
• Lie on the floor on your back for a few minutes every day. Focus on keeping your head in a neutral position with your shoulders touching the floor.
• Practice the Head Ramp movement daily. This exercise helps to bring your head into alignment with your neck and shoulders. It’s as simple as establishing good posture (back straight, shoulder back) then dropping your chin a little bit and gently slide your head back slightly. You may create a double chin but it will be gone in a moment, I promise.
There are many other great exercises to keep your T-spine function well. If you’re a yoga person the cat/cow (or cat/camel) is a great one to do. Have a look on line for videos that can help keep your T-spine in good shape.
Something to think about.
Laurie Sweig is a certified personal fitness trainer and spinning instructor. She owns and operates The Point for Fitness. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.