Effect of Thoracic Mobility Exercise on Respiratory Function, Thoracic Spine, and Thoracolumbar Mobility in Young, Healthy, Physically Active Adults
Thoracic mobility exercise is being incorporated into warm-up and maintenance routines in hopes of preventing injury and improving upper limb kinematics in overhead athletes, however, the evidence demonstrating these effects is still limited. In addition, decreased mobility of the thoracic spine and rib cage has been linked to shoulder and neck pain and dysfunction. Therefore, the aim of this study is to add to the current knowledge base by investigating the acute effects of a dynamic thoracic stretching warmup on thoracic mobility, thoracolumbar mobility, and respiratory function. The study utilized a repeated measures design with participants serving as their own control. Participants attended 2 sessions that were approximately 1 week apart, receiving the designed intervention or control in random order. The tester conducting the measurements was blinded to the session order to minimize experimenter bias. Participants were required to be between the ages of 18 and 25 and regularly participate in moderate-intensity physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes 5 days per week, or vigorous-intensity exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes 3 days per week. Participants with a history of respiratory disease, back, and neck injuries in the previous 12 months, server scoliosis, or spinal surgery were excluded from the study. The findings of the present study showed that a thoracic mobility intervention targeting thoracic spine motion in all planes resulted in acutely increased thoracic mobility in the sagittal and transverse planes with no observed effect on breathing or rib cage expansion in young, healthy, physically active individuals.