Overhead athletes rely on their thoracic spine’s mobility and stability to generate power and prevent injury. In our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics we examine the spine’s biomechanics and influence on patients with shoulder pain. Ruiz et al. (2020) reviewed the biomechanics of the thoracic spine in overhead sports and highlighted the significance of maintaining proper thoracic spine mobility and stability. The thoracic spine’s ability to rotate and extend, coupled with the rib cage’s attachment, allows for efficient transfer of forces through the upper extremities. Insufficient thoracic spine mobility and stability may lead to compensatory movement patterns, resulting in shoulder or elbow injury.
The article emphasizes the importance of thoracic spine screening and evaluation in overhead athletes. Through specific mobility and stability assessments, clinicians can identify movement impairments and implement targeted interventions. Interventions may include soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, spinal manipulation, and specific exercises to improve thoracic spine mobility and stability. For example, exercises that focus on thoracic spine extension and rotation, such as the thoracic spine foam roller mobilization or the prone thoracic spine extension, can improve overhead athletes’ performance and decrease the risk of injury.
In conclusion, overhead athletes must maintain proper thoracic spine mobility and stability to generate power and avoid compensatory movement patterns that increase the risk of injury. The article by Ruiz et al. (2020) highlights the importance of thoracic spine screening, evaluation, and intervention to optimize function and reduce injury risk in overhead athletes. Therefore, coaches, trainers, and medical professionals working with overhead athletes should prioritize these interventions and emphasize proper thoracic spine mobility and stability.
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1. Ruiz J, Feigenbaum L, Best TM. The Thoracic Spine in the Overhead Athlete. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2020 Jan;19(1):11-16. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000671. PMID: 31913918.