Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Back How do I know my t-spine is normal?


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    • #71071
      AvatarToby Kingston-Lee

      Obviously pain free is a criterion.  But I’m wondering if there is an objective test/standard for t-spine mobility.  For example, we can say full range of motion for the ankles is a relaxed foot-together, knees-together squat.  Is there an analogous test for the t-spine?

    • #75110

      What makes you think your t-spine isn’t normal?
      Do you have restrictions?

    • #75112
      AvatarToby Kingston-Lee

      Initially I was stiff enough that I couldn’t even hold proper upright posture.  I’ve done a ton of foam roller and double lacrosse ball extension work and now have localized stiffness ~T7-T10ish.  I’m still working on those areas with slow but steady improvement.  When I work on my t-spine I usually do a quick run through of all 12 segments and by comparing I can tell which are the worst ones.  However, I’m not even sure if I can say the less stiff segments are truly normal.  How will I know when I’ve done enough?

    • #75115

      T spine if you have been using the same tools I’d try some different ones.
      A lacrosse ball may be too hard so your tissue is relaxing. Have you used 2 YTU balls in a tote?
      These work real well.
      You may want to use a different sized ball.
      Have you used a super friend at all?
      Nothing wrong with steady improvement so areas are slower to release.
      If you aren’t seeing improvements you want to relook at your approach. A quick run through may be missing parts. Instead of comparing against each other compare same segments to same segments.
      Keep working with it until you stop seeing change.
      When you stop seeing change its time to re access are there restrictions/limitations?

    • #75121
      AvatarToby Kingston-Lee


    • #75125
      AvatarNathan Richer

      three thoughts about how to tell if you have enough mobility in the t-spine:

      1. yes good t-spine mobility is once you can maintain upright posture with proper curve in the t-spine with no straining or extra tightness. but it is not 100% about the t-spine in order to do that, but it is part of the system for sure.
      2. there are two tests which i have seen that may answer your question about t-spine mobility.  one is a global extension test, and the other is neck/trunk flexion.  both require an experienced person to evaluate and very hard to evaluate by yourself since you can’t see yourself fully when you’re doing the test.  they are both out of the dynamic neuromuscular stabilization system (http://www.rehabps.com) and if you really want to explore, i would find a DNS professional to evaluate.
      3. in general t-spine mobility shows itself in many of kstarr’s mwod tests. you must have enough t-spine mobility to perform most of them so if you are doing well with those tests, your t-spine mobility is probably doing ok.
    • #75134

      David do you have links to the mwod tests you mention?  Thanks.

    • #75135

      David do you have links to the mwod tests you mention?  Thanks.

    • #75143
      AvatarNathan Richer

      J Dach – i poked around the net and didn’t find any videos yet. I will keep looking. Also they are not MWOD tests, or at least not mentioned in BASL.  if you’re interested in books that describe them, i could dig those up. but i will keep looking for videos in the meantime.

    • #75156

      Thanks David, I was thinking they were MWOD tests.  I found a few with a Google search, this one actually quotes Kelly:


    • #75157
      AvatarNathan Richer

      there is some description of the global extension test in this DNS pdf:

    • #75158

      Thanks David.  Also saw this, not real scientific, but assume pretty directionally correct and easy to do:

      Before you start with the exercises, let’s first figure out the
      extent of your thoracic immobility. The industry standardized way of
      determination is a simple one:

      1. Lie down on the floor, back flat against it.
      2. Your knees should be up with your feet and glutes flat on the floor.
      3. Lock your elbows and bring your arms directly overhead, attempting to touch your wrists to the ground above your head.
      4. Make sure to maintain contact between your lower back and the floor; don’t arch your back to get your hands in place.

      If you can’t get into this position
      and touch your wrists to the ground, you have poor thoracic mobility.
      If you really had to struggle through discomfort or even pain (don’t
      fight through pain!), you have less than ideal thoracic mobility. And if
      you were able to breeze through this drill, you should probably still
      work on more mobility, just to shore up what you already possess.

    • #75159
      AvatarNathan Richer

      thx J Dach – that one seems like the MWOD test of stand upright and raise your arms above the head. i suppose the ground gives a person some feedback on whether they are arching or not, whereas standing may be tougher to know if you are arching without a partner watching. i suppose you could stand against a wall and do that too.

      still, this is where i mentioned that a lot of MWOD tests don’t just test one thing, they test many parts of your system and thus t-spine mobility is tested in many tests even though the test doesn’t specifically call it out.
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