Mobility means mobile. It’s being able to move your joints freely throughout their range of motion. Mid-back mobility not only helps you improve your posture, it also reduces pain as it helps you properly align and move your head, neck, shoulders, and back - which has positive effects on the rest of your body since everything is interconnected.
Today we go over why mid-back mobility is important as well as mid-back mobility stretches to give you some exercises to do to increase your range.
What Is Mid-Back Mobility, and Why Can it be Limited?
Mid-back mobility refers to the capacity to move the thoracic spine smoothly and without restriction across its ranges of motion - forward bending, backward bending, side bending and, notably, rotation.
What decreases back mobility you ask? Here’s why you might have back mobility issues:
- Poor shoulder blade control
- Improper breathing techniques
- Not using your full range of motion throughout the day
Can Poor Posture Affect Back Mobility?
You bet! Poor posture can lead to military neck (or text neck), rounded shoulders, misaligned hips and pelvis, and so much more. Poor posture can negatively affect your back mobility and lead to misalignments that cause pain and stop you from doing the things you love!
Poor posture is generally defined as a rounded and humped back (called kyphosis). This kyphotic position causes misalignment to the spinal joints and greatly reduces your ability to rotate your spine. Did you know that about half of your total rotation of your body is designed to come from the middle back alone?! This kyphotic position also causes atrophy of the back extensor muscles, therefore reducing your extension.
Note: Please understand that mobility is part of the solution to living free from pain, but it is likely not the entire solution for most of you. We will discuss more on the long term solution below.
How Often Should You Stretch Your Back for Improved Mobility?
The answer to this is it totally depends on you, your goals, and how much time you have to devote to this practice per day. We recommend stretching for 10-15 minutes per day before your alignment and strength training. This way, you’ll be utilizing the range of motion gains during your workout! The more you use your range of motion, the more it is preserved. If you sit at a desk for much of the day, take 10 minutes every hour or so to perform a few stretches. You can also read this blog we wrote on how to improve your posture via desk stretches online.
What Should You Do If You Experience Pain While Doing Back Mobility Exercises?
If you experience any pain while doing mid-back mobility exercise, take some time to ensure that you are performing the exercise with proper technique. Many times improper technique can cause you to compress joints, discs, or overstretch ligaments before you actually stretch the muscle you are trying to target .
It’s important to note if you’re feeling sensation or actual pain. Any sharpness, tingling, or burning sensations mean back off or modify. If you’re feeling a stretch, tightness, or even a deep ache, that’s okay! We go over this in the MoveU program and include modifications on back mobility exercises to help you out.
Best Mobility Exercises to Do for Your Back
Here is a list of some of our favorite mobility exercises to do for your back:
- Foam roll your thoracic spine
- Cat cows
- Wall facing squats (to return your spine to it’s natural, more extended position)
- Prone rotations and the golf stretch to help you gain more rotation
- Lateral bending through the QL stretch
- Side bends in a cat cow position
How Does Stretching Help with Back Pain and Mid-Back Mobility?
Stretching can help improve pain and range of motion, and it can be used as a great recovery tool, but we highly recommend using this tool in conjunction with body alignment and strengthening exercises for lasting effects. Here are some ways stretching can help:
- Improving flexibility: When the muscles in your mid-back are tight and stiff, they can contribute to pain and discomfort. Stretching can help to increase your flexibility and range of motion, which can reduce the amount of strain on your muscles and joints.
- Relieving muscle tension: Stretching can help to release tension in the muscles of your mid-back, which can ease pain and promote relaxation.
- Promoting circulation: Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, which can provide important nutrients and oxygen to help them heal and recover from injury or strain.
- Improving posture: Tightness in the mid-back muscles can cause you to hunch forward, leading to poor posture and potentially more pain. Stretching can help to improve your posture by releasing tight muscles and encouraging proper alignment.
How do I fix mid back pain?
The first step to fixing your back pain is to reduce the workload of the intercostal muscles by changing your breathing from chest breathing, to diaphragm/stomach breathing. From there, learn to extend your spine. When you breathe well and align your spine, you will be prepared to realign your shoulder blades. When you have all of the above pieces in place, you can then properly increase mobility through - flexing, tilting, and rotating. See how it’s all connected?
You can learn the proper techniques and exercises to achieve more mid-back-mobility in our MoveU Membership