If you are feeling locked up around the rib cage and twisting from side to side feels restrictive here’s a remedy!
Try this myofascial stimulation and release of the ROTATORES (RO-TA-TOR-AYS) - the primary postural muscles for thoracic rotation. (Video is sped up)
The ROTATORES live in the “little river” groove along both sides of the thoracic spine laterally. The tissue fibers form a Z pattern connecting the veterbral transverse processes to the back side or spinous process of each vertebral body. The Z patterns encourages rotation and really gives the effect of zipping up support along the spinal column.
But first, here are a few keys to experiencing the postural muscles more deeply. Mindful connection to their job, location and fiber pattern is super important to creating greater body awareness here. Using modalities like myofascial therapy balls which I'm using here, can help us connect to the deeper layers of our body and provide a nice massage like experience.
Specifically to the recline opening sequence, I keep the rocking motion to just a little bit of movement to ensure I am targeting just the ROTATORES and not drifting out of the river and off into another area of tissue - which wouldn’t be bad - but would take me away from the ROTATORES, the muscles we are trying to connect to. Connecting to these deeper muscles more fully can help me effect a change to the tissue quality here. After all, they are “mindfulness muscles," meaning, we can't feel these engage or kick on and turn off like we can some of the larger muscles closer to our skin's surface.
Hydrating dry tissue and creating better fun tin along this deep layer of the spine will translate into greater freedom when I test out the improved range in the seated rotations in between sides.
To get started, place two balls one on top of the other in the little groove along your spine’s upper thoracic region. Stay for 30 seconds, sinking in and trying out some tiny rocking motions, then move the balls to the lower thoracic region and repeat. Sit up for a little seated swing movement to notice any change and then repeat on the second side.
From the tabletop position I can mindfully connect to the ROTATORES without the balls, and try to rate just a little bit away from my midline. To let that moment happen just from the ROTATORES, in the “little river” groove, and not by recruiting from other nearby muscles, you see me stabilizing my head with hand and inner arm so I can just mobilize the thoracic area. Using the block under my opposite hand allows me more space and length.
There’ only about 30 degrees of rotation around the thoracic spine so don’t be surprise when you try this that you don’t experience mush rotation. Practice will give a bit more freedom!
Try them both, 30 seconds in each location or movement. Keep your breath relaxed, sink yourself into the balls when reclined and keep the spine lengthen when kneeling. Afterwards check your results and even notice how you feel more upright in your posture and less restricted in your breathing capacity. [“Twist” performed by Phish.... music i do not own the rights to]
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