The Secret to Thoracic Spinal Mobility

Learn how freeing your sternum can enhance the health of your spine.

What is spinal mobility?

In NeuroMovement(R), we like to keep things simple. Spinal mobility in our world is the ability of the spine to move freely through the center of our body.

Our amazing spine has the ability to round, arch, side-bend, and twist. And you can combine two or more of these functions to move your back in a myriad of ways.

Think of the last time you got a can from a high shelf in the pantry. Maybe you arched your back to bring your arm up, side bent to get your arm a bit higher, and twisted a bit to bring your arm forward into the cabinet. Or maybe you did it another way. No matter how you completed this action, your spine was involved.

Why is spinal mobility important?

Our spine is crucial for so many of our basic functions (besides getting food hidden in the back of your cabinets, of course)!

A healthy spine moves as we breathe, allowing for maximal expansion of the chest and lungs. The more easily we breathe, the less anxious we feel.

A mobile spine twists to help us turn our heads to look behind us. If you don’t think this is critical, just talk to one of the many competent yet frustrated people who failed their driving test only because they couldn’t look over their shoulder to check for traffic

And when our movements are well-organized so we can move our spine freely, we rarely experience back, neck, or shoulder pain.

How to improve spinal mobility, NeuroMovement(R)-style:

If you’ve tried NeuroMovement(R) with me, you know that we never stretch or strain. Instead, we learn to better organize our movements by paying attention to what we feel as we move.

Most newcomers to the method are surprised when they’re asked to track the movement and feeling in their sternum. They’ve never thought of their breastbone before! The sternum (breastbone) connects to our spine via the ribs.

So, to increase mobility in the spine, we learn to free the chest so we can move our sternum and ribs. That’s because you can’t move the spine if you can’t move the sternum.

Just try it: put one hand on your spine between your shoulder blades (if you can), and the other on your breastbone. Now twist a little. Did you notice that BOTH hands had to move through space?

If your spine moves, your sternum HAS to move. And you can free the movement of the spine even more by learning how to move the ribs relative to the sternum.

Of course, you learn all this indirectly through slow, gentle movement explorations in NeuroMovement(R). Thank goodness, since a lot of us can’t just turn the words we read or hear into effective, daily habits. (Certainly I can’t!) If we could, we would have a lot less back pain in the world.

If you’d like to experience your first voice-led NeuroMovement(R) lesson for free, just get in touch (new students only). Mention this blog post, and I’ll get you signed up!

Talk soon,

Ana Maria

Categories: Back Pain, Neck Pain, Posture, Student Questions