In light of our upcoming seminar regarding strengthening for runners, I wanted to discuss one aspect of running mechanics that can aide in the efficiency and effectiveness of our motion: trunk dissociation. In order to dissociate, or separate, our thoracic spine (upper back) motion from our lumbar spine (lower back) motion we must have both adequate flexibility and muscular control. Dissociation between these sections of our spine is important during reciprocal movements such as walking and running where they will be rotating in opposite directions.
There is a quick two part test that can reveal whether or not we are able to properly dissociate our thoracic spine from our lumbar spine. In order to perform the test, you will be standing with your arms crossed. From this position, first attempt to rotate your shoulders without letting your waist move. Next attempt to rotate your waist without letting your shoulders move. If you are struggling or unable to perform one or both of these motions, you may be lacking the adequate ROM or muscular control to dissociate the different areas of your spine.
If you have difficulty rotating your waist while keeping your shoulders still, you can perform lumbar trunk rotations to help dissociate your lower back from your upper back. To perform lumbar trunk rotations, lie on a flat surface such as the floor or bed with your knees bent. Next, rotate your waist drifting your knees to one side while keeping your shoulders flat on the surface. Once you have reached the maximum distance without letting your shoulders rise, you can rotate your waist in the opposite direction, drifting your knees to the opposite side. This sequence counts as one repetition and can be performed for three sets of ten repetitions. Make sure to perform each repetition at a comfortable pace and maintain control of your trunk.
If you have difficulty rotating your shoulders while keeping your waist and hips still, you can perform seated thoracic rotations. For those of you who read my former post regarding thoracic mobility, you may be familiar with this simple exercise. In order to perform this exercise, you can sit at the edge of a chair, table, or bed with your back not supported. Next, rotate your shoulders in one direction while keeping your hips flat on the surface of your seat. Once you have reached your maximum distance, rotate in the opposite direction. Similar to the previous exercise, this entire sequence counts as one repetition and you may perform three sets of ten repetitions.
The purpose of these exercises is to restrict the motion of one area of your spine while moving the other area. The first exercise utilizes the floor to keep the thoracic spine stable while allowing for lumbar movement while the second exercise utilizes the seated position to keep the lumbar spine stable while allowing the thoracic spine to move. If you are limited with both movements, feel free to perform both exercises. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort from either exercise, don’t hesitate to contact myself or any one of our licensed Physical Therapists here at Physical Solutions for a further evaluation.
Please Join us for our Running Seminar taking place:
Friday, April 19th in Bethpage with Clara Vargas
Wednesday, April 24th in Mineola with Nicole Strk