Exercises for the thoracic spine and cervicothoracic spine (For Osteochondrosis, Kyphosis, Scoliosis) – Half Bridge (Setu Bandhasana), Cat/cow (Marjariasana), Stretching to Limbs, Plank, posture: The list of ailments of a modern person is increasingly headed by back pain. The situation is aggravated by the fact that it is not always possible to determine the cause of the pain, and some changes may generally be asymptomatic. And when a person pays attention to a problem, then irreversible changes have already occurred.
Last Updated: 2022 (A few hours ago…)
Hernias, muscle spasms, or joint dysfunction are common causes of diseases of the thoracic spine. Every year the number of people diagnosed with osteochondrosis, scoliosis, and kyphosis is growing. How do these diseases develop and can their occurrence be prevented? What exercises can help relieve pain and correct posture? These are the most common questions about back pain that will be covered in the article.
Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine: causes
Osteochondrosis is a term used to describe a wide range of skeletal lesions in humans and animals. The disease is most common in children and adolescents, and among animals, in fast-growing horses, dogs, pigs and chickens. During the development of osteochondrosis, the blood supply to the bone is interrupted, as a result of which its localized necrosis occurs. Nutritional, hereditary, endocrine factors, as well as biomechanical effects and disturbances in the blood supply of the growing cartilage, play an important role in the development of the disease.
Osteochondrosis is accompanied by pain associated with the localization of bone damage. Some types of the disease, depending on the site of the skeletal lesion, may be accompanied by edema, lameness, curvature or kyphosis of the upper spine.
Osteochondrosis can be divided into three groups:
- Spinal: Scheuermann-Mau disease – curvature of the thoracic spine.
- Articular osteochondrosis: Legg-Calvet-Perthes disease (avascular necrosis of the femoral head), Keller’s disease (aseptic destruction of the tarsal or scaphoid bones of the foot), Panner’s disease (osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow head) and Freiberg’s disease (osteochondropathy of the head of the second or third metatarsal foot) …
- Non-articular osteochondrosis: Sever’s disease (calcaneus or heel) and Kienbock’s disease (hand), as well as conditions not always characteristic of osteochondrosis, such as Osgood-Schlatter disease (tubercle on the tibia) and osteochondritis dissecans.
Osteochondrosis can occur in any part of the spine: in the cervical region (CS osteochondrosis), in the thoracic region (TS osteochondrosis) and in the lumbar region (LS osteochondrosis).
Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is associated with wear and tear and changes in the intervertebral disc. These annulus fibrosus are located between the vertebrae and act as shock absorbers for impacts. Due to the strong pressure, the discs are deformed and lose their ability to regenerate. As a result, bony growths form, which can cause pain and severely limit the mobility of the spine.
Intervertebral discs, like other parts of the body, are subject to natural wear and tear. However, there are a number of factors that speed up this process:
- Excessive physical activity, lifting weights.
- Intervertebral disc infections.
- Herniated discs.
- Fracture of the spine.
- Scoliosis, pelvic displacement.
- Excess weight.
Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is difficult to diagnose independently. In order to prevent the development of the disease, you should pay attention to the following manifestations:
- pain in the cervical and shoulder regions, in the area of the shoulder blades;
- tension and pain in the lower back and spine;
- a state of prolonged fatigue, apathy, drowsiness;
- numbness of the upper extremities (fingers, hands and arms);
- difficulty in flexing and extending the limbs;
- short-term loss of orientation when turning the body and head;
- nausea, dizziness, loss of balance;
- noise in ears;
- sharp pain with normal movements.
A set of exercises for osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine
Serious degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs require monitoring and treatment. Surgery may sometimes be necessary. If, at the first signs of osteochondrosis, you begin to perform exercises for the thoracic region, other measures may not be needed. Gymnastics significantly improves the mobility of the spine, stretches the muscles of the thoracic region and normalizes muscle tone.
Exercises for chest osteochondrosis will help to relax and stretch the muscles of the back:
- Stand up straight and place your palms on your belt. Turn your shoulders one way and the other. Try to fix the pelvis in place. Make 10 turns in both directions.
- From the previous position, begin to bring the shoulder blades together, pushing the chest forward. Then round your back and bring your shoulders as close as possible. Perform 10 shoulder movements back and forth.
- Lie on your back and place your fists behind your back above your waist. Remain in this position for 10-15 seconds, then remove your hands. Round your back, lower your chin to your chest and wrap your head around your hands. Stay in this position for 15 seconds. Do 5-10 reps.
- Sit in a high-backed chair and lower your arms along the side of your body. Inhale, place your hands behind your head. Slowly pull the body back and press the shoulder blades against the back of the chair. Exhale and take the starting position. Repeat five times.
- Place your hands on your shoulders and tilt your head alternately to your right and left shoulder. Do 10-15 reps on each side.
Exercise is best done in the morning or during the day. After eating, at least one hour should pass. In the evening, you can do 1-2 exercises so that the effect of gymnastics does not prevent you from falling asleep.
Exercises for osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine can be performed in any order, but it is best to start and end the practice with the simplest ones. To enhance the effect, you can repeat the complex twice. All actions should be performed smoothly, without haste, avoiding sudden movements. If any twisting, bending, or bending causes severe pain, do not forcefully do it. Eliminate painful movements from the complex.
Thoracic osteochondrosis in an advanced form can lead to compression of the intercostal muscles and impaired breathing. Exercises for the thoracic spine relieve tension and restore vital body functions to normal:
- In a standing position, raise your arms up. Place your right hand around your left wrist and bend over to the right. Stretch your left arm in the direction of the bend and increase the extension of the pectoral muscles on the left side of the body. Lock the pose for a few seconds. Straighten up and repeat the exercise on the other side. Make 5-8 tilts to each side.
- Sit in a chair and wrap a long towel around your chest. Grasp the left end of the towel with your right hand and the right end with your left hand. Exhale slowly while pulling the towel off. Then release the pressure and inhale. Do 5 reps.
- Get on your knees and put your hands on the floor. As you inhale, arch your back and raise your head. As you exhale, round your back and lower your head down. Do 10 reps.
Exercises for the muscles of the chest can be combined with a complex to work out the muscles of the back. The sequence of exercises can be any, but it is desirable to perform the most difficult ones in the middle of the lesson.
The question often arises of whether it is possible to perform exercises for pain in the thoracic spine. It depends on the intensity of the pain and its duration. Acute pain is likely to prevent exercise. Long-term pain is an indicator of serious disorders, such as inflammation or a pinched nerve. It is best to see a doctor and identify the cause of the pain.
Yoga helps relieve painful tension or get rid of osteochondrosis of the cervicothoracic spine. Asanas make you feel better, and their regular practice allows you to forget about pain and medications. This effect is achieved due to the fact that the load is evenly distributed over the spine. It improves blood flow, strengthens the back muscles and relieves the symptoms of osteochondrosis. Yoga activates all the resources of the body, since in the process of practice it is necessary to monitor the correct performance of asanas and breathing.
Kyphosis and scoliosis of the thoracic spine
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine to the left or right, as well as around its axis. Most often, the disease develops in children from 9 to 14 years old, during puberty. In most cases, scoliosis develops gradually and painlessly. Sometimes mild to moderate scoliosis can develop imperceptibly. If scoliosis is mild, it does not require treatment. In difficult cases, treatment includes special exercises, back fixation, or surgery to straighten the spine.
The curvature of scoliosis can be in the lower spine (lumbar bend), at the top of the spine (thoracic bend), or from the top of the spine to the bottom (thoracolumbar bend). In some cases, a double curve appears, forming an S-shape.
There are several types of scoliosis, each with a different cause.
Non-structural scoliosis (functional, or postural, scoliosis) involves curvature of the spine due to different leg lengths or muscle spasm in the back. The back is straightened when a person changes position.
Structural scoliosis is a fixed curvature that does not disappear with a change in position. This type of scoliosis has several types:
Idiopathic scoliosis implies an unexplained cause. This is the most common type and affects 8 out of 10 people.
Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by a special condition of the muscles or nerves in the back, for example, in people with muscular dystrophy, polio, cerebral palsy, or neurofibromatosis. Each of these conditions has other symptoms and problems besides scoliosis. In about 1 in 10 people, scoliosis is associated with a neuromuscular problem.
- Osteopathic scoliosis is caused by a bone abnormality.
- Congenital scoliosis develops in an infant in the womb.
How is idiopathic scoliosis treated?
Most people have moderate scoliosis that does not need treatment. However, children need regular check-ups to make sure their scoliosis doesn’t get worse as they get older. When bone growth stops after puberty, scoliosis usually does not get worse. Special gymnastics, some sports and yoga help support the body. But it is best to consult a doctor who will determine which sports or exercises are best not practiced for a particular type of scoliosis.
This is the name of the physiological curvature of the thoracic spine with a bulge back. The normal curvature range is 20 to 50 degrees. This curvature corresponds to a reverse curvature called lordosis, which is located in the cervical and lumbar spine. This combination of curves allows people to sit, stand and move without damaging the spine.
The term “kyphosis” is commonly used to refer to excessive curvature of the upper back of more than 50 degrees, resulting in a forward bend. Kyphosis can develop at any age. As a rule, this is a disease of the thoracic spine, but kyphosis may develop in the cervical or lumbar spine..
The most common causes of kyphosis are:
- Kyphosis associated with osteoporosis. Because osteoporosis weakens the bones, the vertebrae are prone to deformation: the anterior part of the vertebra “sags”, while the posterior part maintains its height. This results in excessive kyphotic bending.
- Congenital kyphosis usually occurs in infants and young children due to a developmental disorder of the spine in the womb. This form most often requires surgery in childhood to align the spine and prevent progressive deformity.
- Degenerative kyphosis develops due to wear and tear of the spine over time. The main cause is spinal arthritis, accompanied by disc degeneration.
- Neuromuscular kyphosis can occur in children with certain neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or muscular dystrophy.
- Food kyphosis. This condition is caused by a vitamin deficiency during childhood, such as vitamin D deficiency.
- Postural kyphosis is associated with poor posture. It occurs in people of all ages and is more pronounced in women than in men. Exercises to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles are helpful in correcting postural kyphosis.
- Scheuermann-Mao disease occurs in adolescents due to the rapid growth of the spine and discs. Clinically, it can manifest itself in adolescents and adults along with a mild form of scoliosis. This condition is corrected with a brace, exercise, and physical therapy. Surgery is used in case of painful curvatures that exceed 70 degrees or progress.
- Traumatic kyphosis can develop due to improper healing of a fracture of the spine or injury to the ligaments that support the spine.
Exercises for kyphosis of the thoracic spine
If thoracic kyphosis is not corrected, other problems may arise, such as hyperlordosis – an excessive curvature of the lower back. To compensate for a hunched back, you must constantly stretch your neck forward to keep your head upright. Thus, the weight of the head falls on the cervical region. This, in turn, leads to neck pain and headaches. As we age, thoracic kyphosis can cause neurological problems due to limited blood flow to the brain.
What exercises are indicated for thoracic kyphosis?
First of all, in this position there is a weakening of the chronically tense press. As a result, the spine returns to a more or less neutral position due to the working muscles of the press and chest.
- Lie on your stomach with your legs slightly apart.
- Place your palms under your shoulders, bring your elbows back.
- Lift your upper body off the floor as high as possible without lifting your hips off the floor.
- Push your chest forward and lower your shoulders down.
- Try to arch your upper back, not your lower back.
Stretching the pectoralis major muscle
The exercise helps lengthen the shortened chest muscles and works in the upper back.
- Stand facing the wall, raise your left hand to shoulder level parallel to the floor, press your palm against the wall.
- Start turning slowly to the right. The left palm remains on the wall.
- To facilitate traction, the left arm can be lowered below shoulder level. To strengthen – raise above shoulder level.
- Repeat the exercise on the other hand.
In yoga there is an asana for stretching the pectoral muscle – Bhuja Swastikasana, which is performed in the supine position.
Good for stretching your abs and strengthening your back.
- Lie on your stomach and stretch your arms forward.
- The spine is in a neutral position.
- Raise your arms, legs, and chest as high as possible from the floor in one movement.
- Hold for 2-3 seconds and then slowly lower yourself onto the mat.
- Do a few repetitions.
Exercises for scoliosis of the thoracic spine
In most cases, scoliosis is mild and does not cause serious problems. However, you need to maintain a healthy back so as not to worsen the condition of the spine. There are several exercises that strengthen your core muscles, improve posture, reduce pain, and relieve fatigue. Regular performance of the complex helps to slightly correct the position of the spine.
Half Bridge (Setu Bandhasana)
Helps to strengthen the muscles of the buttocks, opens the chest.
- Lie with your back on the floor or on a mat, place your hands along the body, palms down.
- Bend your knees, bring your feet to your buttocks and place them parallel to each other.
- Start lifting your pelvis off the floor, lifting it as high as possible. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
- Lower your pelvis to the floor.
- Do 5-6 reps.
Cat / cow (Marjariasana)
Improves the flexibility of the spine, increases the blood supply to the tissues.
- Get on all fours. The wrists are under the shoulders and the hips are perpendicular to the floor. The back is in a neutral position.
- Slowly arch your back while inhaling. Raise your head up.
- Round your back as you exhale. Lower your head down.
Alternating stretching of arms and legs
Increases core strength, improves posture, tones the muscles of the arms and legs.
- Stand in a cat / cow position.
- Extend your left arm in front of you at shoulder level.
- Extend your right leg back parallel to the floor.
- Hold this position for 7-10 seconds. Do not arch or round your back.
- Lower your arm and leg to their original position, then repeat the same on the other side.
- If this is easy, you can raise and lower your arm and leg at the same time.
This is a simple yet effective core strengthening exercise. There are several plank options that can be performed depending on your fitness level. The fixing time for each plank depends on the capabilities or on the recommendations of a doctor or trainer.
Knee and elbow planks
- Go to life.
- Raise your body using your elbows. The forearms are parallel to each other, the elbows are bent at an angle of approximately 90 degrees, and the palms are pointing down.
- Knees on the floor.
- Keep your back in a neutral position.
Plank on knees and arms
- Get on all fours.
- The wrists are under the shoulders.
- Move your knees further away from the pelvis.
- The body is straight from the shoulders to the knees.
- Get on all fours and bring your legs back, keeping your feet on your toes.
- Lower your forearms to the floor, parallel to each other.
- Align your body in a straight line from shoulders to heels.
Plank on outstretched arms
- Get on all fours and bring your legs back.
- Wrists under the shoulders.
- The body is in line from shoulders to heels.
- Try not to bend in your lower back or lift your pelvis.
You should consult your doctor before exercising. Each case of scoliosis is individual, so there may be exercises that help someone, but can harm someone.
Exercises for osteochondrosis of the cervicothoracic spine
How to get rid of pain in cervical osteochondrosis? Exercises for the cervical spine are not very intense, but require increased attention to the performance and the sensations that arise. Movements should not cause acute pain, discomfort, tremors of the limbs. If warmth is felt in the shoulders and back, it means that the muscle tissue is receiving the necessary physical activity.
By the way, these exercises help get rid of headaches with osteochondrosis.
- Stand up straight, straighten your shoulders, lower your arms along the body. First, tilt your head to the right, then to the left shoulder. Bend 10-15 times, or until you feel warmth in your neck muscles.
- Turn your head to the right and stay in this position for 10-15 seconds. Return your head to its original position, then turn your head to the left. Make 3-5 turns in both directions.
- Lower your head and try to reach your chest with your chin. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Then slowly pull your head back. Stay in this position for 5-10 seconds. Try not to throw your head back too much.
- Rotate your head slowly, first clockwise, then counterclockwise. Perform 3-5 rotations in each direction.
- Raise your arms up, inhale and twist your body to the right. As you exhale, rotate the body to the left. Do 6-8 reps on each side.
- Stand up straight with your hands up. Lean first to the right, then to the left. Try not to round your back.
- Raise your arms above your head. Stand up on your toes and stretch the entire length of your spine. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Lie on your stomach with your forearms parallel to each other so that the angle at the elbows is approximately 90 degrees. Pull the mat slightly towards you, arching in your chest. Bring your shoulders down, point the top of the head up. Fix this position for 5-7 seconds.
- Get on all fours and begin to stretch your arms forward, moving your palms along the mat. The hips remain in place, perpendicular to the mat. Place your chin on the mat and try to bend as much as possible in the chest region. When performing a lighter version, your hands can be placed on a block or chair.
With the correct and regular implementation of these exercises, significant results can be achieved:
- improve the elasticity of soft tissues, ligaments and joints;
- normalize the general blood flow and lymph flow in the body;
- make your posture even and beautiful;
- avoid displacement of the vertebral discs and vertebral injuries;
- remove the load from the cartilaginous tissue and exclude the possibility of pinching the nerve endings.
For most people, these exercises are safe. Nevertheless, pay attention to some contraindications:
- Do not exercise if the pain is severe.
- Stop the exercise if pain appears during exercise.
- Be careful with your practice if you have recently had injuries to the wrists, knees, hip joints, spine.
- It is better not to do exercises on the stomach during the period of exacerbation of gastrointestinal diseases.
How to strengthen the thoracic spine
Of course, it is best to avoid spinal diseases. But, if you feel back pain, notice a curvature of the spine, or you have been diagnosed with a disease of the musculoskeletal system, start working on the problem! Even in the case when doctors say that the curvature is insignificant and at the present time nothing can be done. The sooner you start strengthening your back, the more likely you are to stop the disease from progressing.
Relaxation is an important step on the path to health. Practice breathing exercises (pranayama): full yogic breathing, breathing stretching, anuloma viloma pranayama. These techniques will help to relax the body and mind, allow you to calm down and release tension in the muscles.
It is not only exercises to strengthen the thoracic spine that help well, but also lifestyle changes. If you have a sedentary job, you need to create a schedule that allows you to take breaks and exercise.
Watch your posture
Today people spend more and more time “on the phone”. The head tilted position compresses the spinal cord and blood vessels, leading to displacement of the vertebrae.
Don’t sleep on your stomach
This is the worst case for scoliosis because it flattens the thoracic region. Scoliosis is three-dimensional: if the condition worsens in one plane, then it also worsens in others. Sleeping on your stomach also requires turning your head to the side, which increases the curvature of the spine.
Don’t run long distances
Every time you take a step, the vertebrae are compressed. And this leads to the progression of changes in the spine. Therefore, not only running, but also jumping, horse riding is better to limit or even exclude from practice.
Don’t carry heavy things
When you carry a heavy bag with one hand, the deformity of the spine increases. A backpack worn over both shoulders is best suited for such purposes.
Change your posture often
Sitting too long or standing in one place puts more stress on the spine. Exercise or walk more often. If you have a sedentary job, find a chair with good support.
Unfortunately, diseases of the musculoskeletal system are firmly rooted in people’s lives. As the studies cited above show, more than half of the cases of scoliosis, osteochondrosis and kyphosis are idiopathic.
In other words, the cause of their occurrence is unknown. Therefore, any person is at risk. We are required to take care of the spine every day and take care of our health.
A correct lifestyle, regular physical activity and a clear daily routine will help minimize the risk of developing diseases that are very difficult to treat.