I hope all is well. I’m going to stay subscribed thank you very much for asking. Had the old hip mobility handbook out recently and following every couple of days since.
Anything for thoracic spine mobility would be interesting so this desk ridden creature can still swing a club at the weekend.
Yours in golf
Always a pleasure to hear from Colin.
Golf is one of those underappreciated undertakings.
What do I mean by that.
I mean guys go out to course, tee up and then try to smash that ball as far as possible.
Probably early in the morning
Probably no warm up
And if I’m being a bit honest, usually by people in less than optimal health and fitness.
Swinging a golf bat is an explosive rotational movement.
Not a million miles away from a tennis serve, a Hurling puck out, even throwing a punch.
But because its a “relaxing” hobby, few take into account the physical nature of hitting the ball.
Until, that is, they get hurt.
In Wild Geese Fitness, and even before Wild Geese existed, I would train many hard charging headcases for extreme sports, for martial arts, for full contact sports. And outside of impact/collision related injuries, they would remain constantly healthy and robust.
The people who would constantly be hurting, pulled muscles, sore joints etc, they would be the lads meeting up for a game of 6 a side football, the golfists and those who participated in other “fun” activities with the lads.
What's the deal?
When we are looking at high performance in a sport, when we expect and accept a high risk of injury, we prepare as such.
We warm up on the day.
We fuel up and hydrate in advance of the event
We have trained, preparing mentally and physically for the event.
We hope for the best, but we prepare for the worst.
And when we're just out for a bit of craic with the mates?
We get up and go, with little thought of anything else but having a bit of fun.
We simply hope for the best.
The thing is, the golfist is still putting as much into their Swings as they can. A 100% effort from a “weekend warrior” is no less relevant than a 100% effort from a highly trained professional.
The difference is who has the chassis the tolerate that effort?
Now, to bring things round to the actual question asked.
How can our hero improve thoracic mobility?
This is line with last weeks question on shoulders, so the answer is much the same.
Our shoulders rely on the thoracic spine, as that's where our Scapula live.
If you missed last week's email, it’ll appear as a blog post on davehedges.net
And a shout out to those who replied, including the hero of the story, much appreciated, thank you.
Mobility requires 2 things, I believe.
1) Good joint interaction
2) Relaxed and pliable soft tissue
And a probable 3) experience of going into end range of a joint action.
Good joint interaction
The thoracic spine is 12 vertebra, each one attached to a rib or 2, and a shed load of muscle that runs up to the head, down to the Pelvis, round to the arms and pretty much runs the upper body.
So a common issues to Prioritise are breathing, opening the chest and keeping the neck loose.
A simple one stop catch all for all of this is the Yoga “Childs pose”
Get onto all fours, walk the hands forward a little. Now sit the hips back onto your heels.
The arms remain straight but relaxed, you will feel as you sit back, the arms stretch a bit.
Now relax here.
Observe your breathing
Try to feel your belly expand into your thighs as you inhale and relax off again as you exhale.
Try to feel the back expand as you inhale and relax as you exhale.
Done well, the arms are stretched out in an overhead position, the shoulders are “lifted off” the body and the neck musculature is unable to assist in drawing breath. We have to rely on the diaphragm, and the neck and upper can start to relax and chill out.
Here's a nice video on Childs Pose, albeit with a focus on the stretch (the stretch will be mainly through the lats).
Notice their start point means they have to walk the hands forward, I’d rather we start with the hands forward so as we sit back they actually slide backwards by virtue of the hips sitting back, this is where a nice big stretch can be found.
A couple of minutes of child’s pose with conscious breathing followed by maybe 5 minutes of mindful breathing and upper body tension will hopefully lessen, opening up potential for mobility.
Doorway Pec Stretch: place your forearm against a doorframe (of similar upright) and step one foot through the door, almost lunge like.
Step forward and back, alternate legs, but keep the arm where its at.
Each step will offer a stretch for the anterior shoulder and open the chest up.
This video isn't exactly as described, but close enough to give you an idea:
Transition or “Cow Gazes at the Moon”
These are two movements that complement each other, they're from different philosophies but are in the same movement category.
Rather than writing a million paragraphs, here two video links, one for each drill:
Cow Gazes at the Moon:
I would also strongly suggest strength training at least one per week, ideally 3 times.
This would include:
A robust warm up based on joint mobility and waking up the body.
Something strength related
Something more Endurance related.
A “perfect” choice would be the daily workouts that we run in WG-FIT, available for home use via the Train Heroic app (click here for info).
They vary in nature and over a long timeline, even just one session per week will offer stimulation across most movement patterns. The workouts run 4 days per week, but that doesn't mean you must do 4, you do what you can, when you can, with what you can. The daily workouts are merely suggestions to follow.
I hope that all helps.
Do get in touch to let me know and also to ask your questions.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you