Exercising isn’t just about strengthening and sculpting our muscles. It’s also about keeping our joints healthy so that we can be as mobile as possible. After all, our bones and muscles work together to move and stabilize us.
Since much of our body depends on a healthy spine, it’s especially important to realign and mobilize a spine that’s out of whack due to poor posture and other daily wear and tear.
If you have sore, tight muscles around your thoracic spine (for example), it’s likely a sign that you at least need some spine-focused exercises and stretches in your routine. Thankfully, we offer a few simplistic movements you can try at home.
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#1 – Yoga Push-Up
The yoga push-up improves thoracic spine mobility. You begin in the downward motion of a basic push-up, but things take a surprise turn when you lift up from the ground: You’ll rock back onto your heels to extend your spine — butt up in the air. (If you have tight leg muscles and can’t reach your heels all the way down, don’t worry. Just push your heels down as far as they will go.)
Then slowly repeat for a few reps, fully reaching through that extension to feel the goodness of this stretch.
#2 – Spine Twist
The spine twist may sound pretty self-explanatory, but the correct posture is the key to performing this exercise correctly. Make sure you’re sitting up properly on your “sit bones” (see video) with your neck and back straight. With arms out, slowly twist your upper body in intervals, pausing each time you return to the center. There’s no reason to rush this exercise. Feel it working out the kinks in your upper spine.
#3 – Bench T-Spine Mobilization
The T-spine mobilization concentrates both on thoracic spine mobility and greater range of motion in the arms and shoulders. If you don’t have a workout bench at home, use something else that offers support at roughly the same height as shown in the video.
Grip a PVC pipe to keep your arms in position, and as you rock back toward your heels, keep your spine in a diagonal line. If you don’t feel this stretch in your lats and triceps, readjust your posture and distance from the bench (or whatever you’re using) until you do.
#4 – Spine Stretch
Start the spine stretch by sitting atop your “sit bones” again. Slowly roll forward until your back curves and your hands stretch toward or past your feet (let your head hang loosely!). Then roll back up — one vertebra at a time. This exercise uses a combination of “unstacking” and “re-stacking” to release the tension in your entire spine, from top to bottom.
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