Monday, July 23, 2012

It's All Just Protection

Today I want to generate conversation on thoracic spine mobility and its role in the movement patterns of the lower half. Previously I wrote about “whipping the hip”. While learning to “whip the hip” with proper sequencing and quality movement pattern, one may find themselves reaching a plateau or developing symptoms such as LBP(low back pain), hip pain. Michael Boyle and Gray Cook talk about their development of the “Joint-by-Joint Approach”. Looking at our body as a series or segments stacked on top of one another. Lack of thoracic mobility is as common as lack of hip mobility. Slouching posture, hunchback, problems rotating your torso, … Youʼve seen it. The thoracic spine is the area about which we know the least. Many performance/medical professionals recommend increasing thoracic mobility, though few have exercises designed specifically for it. The approach seems to be We know you need it, but weʼre not sure how to get it. Over the next few years, we will see an increase in exercises designed to increase thoracic mobility. Gray Cook also writes.....Ribs, vertebrae and lots of muscle and fascia crisscrossing the front and back of the thorax cause thoracic stiffness. We donʼt inherently have a lot of mobility there, but we need all we can get. However, stiffness isnʼt just something we need to get rid of. Stiffness is there for a reason. Biological mechanisms that move very well in childhood will develop stiffness following an injury or following repetitive bad mechanics over time. If the body doesnʼt stabilize correctly,it will figure out another way to get stability: itʼs called stiffness. If you find tight hamstrings or a tight T-spine and you just hit the foam roller, you may change mobility, but you will see the stiffness return the following day. Mobility efforts without reinstalling stability somewhere else simply donʼt last. Those hamstrings were tight for a reason. That T-spine is stiff for a reason. If you donʼt also backfill some of that new motion with reflex muscular integrity and motor control, youʼre going to have a problem. Usually we see tight hamstrings on people who donʼt extend their hips well. They donʼt use their glutes well, and so the poor hamstrings get double-time. The hamstrings get too much use, and they fatigue—a fatigued muscle and a tight muscle look very much the same. Itʼs all just protection. Really, I donʼt know that I can say this any clearer than what Gray Cook has/is saying. Rodger Fleming, ATC, LMT Body Awareness Therapeutic Massage

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