Thoracic stability exercise is one of the most important parts of any strongman training program. It’s not only important because it helps to prevent injuries but also because it improves your overall performance. If you are looking for some good thoracic stabilization exercises then you have come to right place!
We will start with a brief overview of how the body works and why it needs stability when moving around or performing other activities. Then we will go into the details of how to perform these exercises safely and effectively. Finally, we’ll look at some of the benefits that you might get from doing them.
The Body’s Need For Stabilization:
Stability is very important in order to keep things stable in general. Without stability there would be no way for objects to stay put or move freely without a certain amount of effort (or even resistance). So let’s say you want to throw something hard enough so that it breaks through a wall. You need to make sure that if you do hit the wall, the object doesn’t break through it and instead bounces off. Otherwise you’d just end up breaking your arm or leg.
You could use weights, which would increase your strength and therefore improve your chances of hitting the target, but they’re not going to give you maximum benefit since they don’t allow for full range of motion. So you pick up a broom handle and start swinging it around over your head to build up momentum. Once you think you’re ready you take a step and….you hit the floor.
That’s because there was no stability in your base of support which is just enough to knock you off balance.
The body tends to want to stay in an equilibrium state, so anytime it is forced out of that state there is a counter reaction that takes place automatically to put things back to normal. This is also known as the Law of Stability and is why strength training is so important. The stronger the base, the less chance of falling over when you hit something or are hit by something.
But what exactly is a stable position?
It’s one where the total amount of friction in a joint or group of joints is greater than the force trying to make them move. Doesn’t sound like much but it takes some serious strength to pull off. This is known as joint stability and requires a combination of muscle, tendon and ligament strength. You can’t just rely on pure muscle power since that can be ripped apart by a lateral force. Tendon and ligament strength are important as well because the stronger they are, the less likely they are to tear when put under too much strain.
The problem with this is that tendons and ligaments do not get stronger from exercise (with the exception of the achilles tendon), but the good news is that the muscles which attach to them often do. So in general, the more muscle you have in a given area, the stronger that area as a whole will be, making it more stable. The development of basic strength through traditional weight training is one of the most important factors when it comes to overall joint stability.
But there are other factors as well such as the shape of the muscle itself (especially in the case of the hip and shoulder girdles) and how it attaches to various parts of the skeleton. For example, a muscle that attaches below a joint but also attaches on the bone on the opposite side at the top of the joint will help stabilize that joint. It’s kind of like having someone pushing down on one side of a see-saw and another person pushing up on the other side.
Working both the muscles that attach below the joint and those that attach above it will maximize joint stability. The best example of this is with the shoulder. In addition to the muscles that attach below the shoulder girdle (called the trunk of the body), there are also muscles that attach above it. These are called the upper arm or the “wings” of the shoulder girdle. By strengthening all these various muscles you can create a very stable shoulder girdle and when you do this properly you will notice an improvement in not only your lifting but also your ability to carry heavy objects and even your posture.
So how do you train this?
The best exercises are the most basic. Pushups, bench presses, overhead presses and even pullups have all been proven to strengthen the shoulder girdle. These exercises should be a big part of your training program. There are also some less conventional exercises that can help as well. The first is the towel row. This exercise will strengthen your upper back, which in turn will make your shoulder girdle stronger since it is actually part of your upper back.
Lay a towel on a table and place one end on the floor. Grip the other end in one hand with only your wrist touching the towel and the other end hanging over the edge of the table. Using just your arm, pull the towel so that it rolls up off the table until your elbow is bent at a 90 degree angle. Hold for a second and lower slowly. Do not use your back to pull the towel or you will cheat.
If you find this difficult, start with your wrist touching your stomach. As the exercise gets easier, move your wrist higher and higher until it is up by your chest. You can do these with one arm at a time or both at the same time.
Another option is to do towel curls. Grip the towel in one hand with your palm facing up. Using just your arm, curl the towel up until it is at shoulder level and hold for a second. Lower slowly and repeat. Do not use your back to help you lift the weight.
If this is too easy, start with your elbow bent. As you get stronger, straighten your arm and progress to two arms.
The final exercise is the towel rotation. Grip the towel in your palm so that your hand is double gripping it comfortably. Now twist your arm from your elbow so that the towel rolls over your hand and down to your wrist. Rotate back up to the top and twist back down and repeat. Do not use your back to help you do this and keep your forearm as vertical as possible while rotating.
There are many other exercises that can be used to strengthen the muscles of the shoulder girdle. However, you will find that these are some of the less commonly mentioned exercises, which usually means most people don’t do them. Addressing a weak shoulder girdle does not require fancy exercise machines or weights. A few basic exercises can go a long way in ensuring your lifts are much stronger and safer.
2. Weak Calf Muscles
If you stand up and put all your weight on just one foot and then bend your knee of that standing leg, you should be able to get your heel to at least touch your butt. If not, you have some calf weakness. The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles that make up the bulk of the calf are some the strongest in the body for their size relative to other muscles so they can withstand a lot of work. Strong calves are important because they help prevent knee pain, especially as you get older. Weakness in this muscle can also lead to postural problems due to a forward shifting of the body’s center of gravity.
The best way to train the calf is regular exercises. The standing calf raise is the best way to do this but most gyms don’t have the proper equipment. What you can do instead is use your body weight to train this muscle.
If you find that your calves are exceptionally weak, train them separately from the rest of your leg training. Do not do any squats or leg presses for at least three days before and two days after your calf training.
You can train your calves every day but don’t do it on back to back days. Instead, schedule it just like you would arm or shoulder day in your regular program.
Do not go crazy on the weight. Keep the weight moderate so that you can get at least fifteen reps. With proper form, this will be more than enough to train the muscle.
There are a couple of ways you can do this properly but the easiest is the standing calf raise. All you need is a stair or step of some sort. Do not use a plate raising platform as this will be too high and your heel will likely not drop below the level of your butt as it should for good range of motion.
For the exercise, stand in front of the step or stair with your toes on the edge and your heel hanging off the back. Slowly raise up on your tip toes and then come back down and immediately lift up as high as you can on your heels. Do this for at least fifteen reps and try to get a little higher each time. Always make sure that you drop your heel below the level of your butt at the bottom of every rep.
Do not bounce up and down or shift your weight in order to get more movement. This is cheating yourself out of proper training and will not help your calves at all. Just focus on raising your heels as high as you can on every rep.
You can also do this exercise with one leg at a time. This puts more of the emphasis on the calves but also makes the balance aspect harder so be careful if you choose this way.
To do it, stand in front of the step or stair with your toes on the edge and your heel hanging off the back like before. Slowly raise up on your tip toes and then come back down. Now, keeping your weight on your toes, lift up on your heel as high as you can. Hold this at the top for a second and then slowly lower back down making sure to keep your weight on your toes the entire time. This is one rep.
Do at least fifteen and make sure that your heel is higher at the top of the rep than it was at the bottom.
You can do this exercise with both legs as well. Just be careful and only use a low step or stair so you can land safely if you lose balance. If you are doing one leg at a time, I would recommend using a lower step and a spotter.
Always focus on training your calves in the manner that I have just explained. It is the best way to train them and will give you the best results. Just remember, do not go too heavy or too high with the weight. Concentrate on raising your heels as high as you can on every rep and most of all, have fun!
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