This blog is looking at the dysfunctional thoracic spine (in some part), in that it has restricted mobility and has the potential to impact you in a variety of ways.
Some individuals develop kyphosis, which is the classic hunch-back type posture, this is commonly seen not only in your office workers, but athletes such as mixed martial artists, the mirror muscle gym goers (those that essentially work their chest muscles rather then their back), as well as labourers, whether due to poor technique or heavy loads, mostly both. There are other aspects of this, however I won't go into further detail.
Having a kyphotic posture results in limitations in the spines ability to move, in extension (backwards), flexion (forwards), laterally (sideways) and rotation. Muscles surrounding the spine and other structures also play a role, in that usually the anterior muscles (muscles at the front of your body) are tight, a classic example is the pectoralis major, commonly known as the pec muscles; whereas the posterior muscles (muscles at the back of your body) are generally weak. This causes rounding of the shoulders which can contribute to the hunch back posture, and in combination of the tight anterior neck muscles (which is commonly seen in the same office workers) have a chin poke posture you can develop the above symptoms mentioned- headaches, upper back pain to name a few. However by having this posture, this not only affects the spine, but also impacts the mobility of the shoulders, in that you have restricted range to move, which can also lead to shoulder impingement issues or rotator cuff tears.
A great example to demonstrate this, is to sit hunched forward, flex (or move) your shoulder overhead, note how far you can move your arm, next sit in correct sitting posture, and repeat this movement, you will notice that you can move the shoulder further. The same principle applies to with neck movement, i.e. turning your head to look over your shoulder, particularly when checking blind spots when driving; thus posture is very important.
This does not only affect the average person, or 'Regular Joe', this follows true for those participating in sports, such as Crossfit, and Olympic Weightlifting etc, that require overhead movements. You would know, or will soon know, that thoracic mobility has massive impact on this movement pattern.
Therefore I wanted to provide some examples of corrective exercises to not only assess whether you may be restricted, but also how you can use these to address the issue of poor thoracic mobility.