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Are You a Cat? Learn Some Midback Magic

Are you a cat? The reason I ask this is every time I see one, they seem to be stretching and I’m talk

There’s hope. Because I’m going to show you 2 stretches that get you that deep stretch that you need in the mid spine, But first Let’s chat about why it is important!

The part of the back that gives you the most amount of mobility is the mid back or also known as the thoracic spine. So when you move your spine, the amount of mobility you have in your mid back is crucial.

The thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae from the base of your neck through to the bottom of your rib cage- mid waist- and is an important area of your spine as it houses and protects a number of vital organs, two of them being your heart and lungs.

The thoracic spine is designed so that the joints in the back are tight enough to protect the vital organs but loose enough to allow for the respiratory movements such as deep breathing inhalation well as to allow the middle back to have the greatest amount of movement of the entire spine that's in rotation.

Fun features of the thoracic spine- the thoracic vertebrae have four features which distinguish them from other vertebrae:
1. The thoracic spine is the longest region of the vertebral column 2. The body of the vertebrae is heart shaped (this region of the spine also houses the heart) 3. Presence of demi-facets on the sides of each vertebral body – these articulate with the heads of the ribs.

But did you know, due to the lifestyles that we now lead, most people have very poor movement in the mid back, We sit all day long, in our jobs, car, couches. And even at the gym, we do a lot of flexion based exercises.This affects the mid back which has a significant impact on 2 things:

  1. Neck pain and Headaches- Poor mid back mobility has a direct impact on the tension in your neck. Did you know that those tension headaches and poor neck movement are more likely a result of poor mid back mobility than from an actual neck problem.

  2. Breathing- poor mid back function leads to poor breathing. Does it matter that your breathing isn’t optimal? Well yes. IT’S A HUGE DEAL. Breathing is unquestionably a key function of the human body; it sustains life by providing oxygen and removes the waste products of these reactions, carbon dioxide.

See for yourself! Try this fun test.

  1. Round your shoulders and hunch through your mid back. Turn your head as far as you can to the right, and as far as you can to the left… now try the same thing with an upright and good posture. What did you notice? You would have noticed that when your mid back has proper alignment, that the neck can actually move as it is supposed to.

  2. Round your shoulders again and take a nice deep breath, now do the same thing with an upright posture- the amount of air you can inhale changes, right? This goes to show how your posture affects neck movement and respiration.

So to prevent you from hunching over do these two exercises!

Cat Stretch/ Modified Downward Cat (or dog)

Put your hands on a door frame at hip height

Step back to form a table top position.

Lock your elbows out and notice how the upper back begins to feel tension.

Now push your arms into the door, whilst dropping your chest to the floor.

Make sure you breathe through the exercises and sink lower and lower with each breath.

Wall angel

Stand 30-40cm away from the wall.

Place your backside on the wall and flatten your back and head against the wall,

Now raise your arms to 90 degrees all whilst trying to keep the back completely flat and head maintaining contact with the wall.

With your arms, do a small upward movement sliding your arms 15cm above your head.

You should feel the area between your shoulder blades work and stretch..

Try those 2 exercises at home and if your back still feels stiff and you still cannot get a deep stretch or you have pain in the mid back and stiffness of the neck after 2 weeks, consider getting some additional help- because it's not not going to get better on its own.

At Balanced For Life we share, because moving better matters

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