The Thoracic Spine is the second portion of your vertebral column located towards the upper and mid back area. It joins the cervical spine at the base of the neck and extends below the shoulder blades connecting with the lumbar spine.
There are 12 thoracic vertebrae.
The thoracic spine is part of the framework to support your body. It is an attachment site for the ribs as well as many muscles, small and large. It also helps to stabilize the body keeping it upright and protect the vital organs.
The T-spine has ranges of movement of extension and rotation that will help with the high level movement patterns of throwing. But How?
How Does Thoracic Extension Help With Baseball & Softball Players?
Have you ever seen an athlete’s chest “puff out” during a throw? Have you ever seen that crazy backwards “C” during a pitcher’s delivery? This is caused by outstanding thoracic extension!
Baseball and Softball players require thoracic extension and rotation as well as strong trunk stabilizers in order to transfer force symmetrically from the lower extremities to the upper extremities. A lack of thoracic extension, rotation, trunk stability and most importantly poor timing of this movement will result in dispersed kinetic energy throughout the entire throw.
Do you have poor thoracic extension?
Proper thoracic extension will allow for an ideal shoulder position during the late cocking and acceleration phase of the throw. This is because the activation of the scapula stabilizing musculature (trapezius, rhomboids, levator scapula, serratus anterior and latissimus dorsi musculature) during throwing will “set” the arm into that position.
This will not only help protect the shoulder during these movements, but also allow for more kinetic energy to be produced during the acceleration phase just from the activation of the scap stabilizing and latissimus dorsi muscle tissue. The lumbo-pelvic complex also plays a tremendous role in force production of the throw.
As long as you can justify why you are performing a certain exercise and prove that it is a safe one for the athlete, then you can get as creative as you want! We like to start with some soft tissue work and cat/cow movements to explore how the spine is moving that day…before getting into any T-Spine Exercises.
This exercise incorporates lateral stability, core stability, external rotation and thoracic rotation/extension. Great for infielders and pitchers!