Thoracic Rings and how you treat them.  


One Thoracic Ring = 2 x ribs + breast bone + vertebrae. There are 10 complete rings and an additional 2 incomplete rings.

Your thorax is your rib cage in 3D. The thorax is your middle and upper back bones, ribs and breast bone.

The rib cage is a major center of rotation and balance for the body.

3 major functions: 

  1. To support breathing
  2. To provide a support and framework for the 4 limbs to move and apply force
  3. To protect the heart, lungs, and other important vascular and nervous structures.



Thoracic Rings

The rib cage is not solid or fixed like a birdcage, each thoracic ring rotates and moves in relation to the ring above and below. It moves like a slinky. Each ring has 32 joints.

Muscles attach to the thoracic rings from the shoulder, neck, abdomen, and lower back. 

If one or more rings are out of alignment, or pulled by tight muscles, they affect your balance and how you move. 


How are they relevant to Low Back Pain?  

As described, the thoracic rings move like a slinky, they rotate. If the thorax is stiff, and doesn’t rotate even just at a few levels, the joints in the lower back can be strained. The lower back is not designed to roatte, it is more suited to bending forward and back. 

Many of us sit for extended periods causing stiffness and compression of the thoracic region. This is even more if we shallow breathe, as breathing itself helps keep the rib cage mobile.


Thoracic Rings Treatment

The Thoracic Rings Approach™ “ offers an innovative, unique physiotherapy perspective on the function of thoracic spine and ribcage (the thorax) and the role that the thorax plays in optimal function of the whole of the body and optimal health of the whole person.”  Dr. LJ Lee, Canada.

Treatment involves identifying the thoracic rings that are compressed or not moving the way they should be. The cause of this dysfunction is then assessed.

Once the ring or rings are identified, and the muscles or habitual movements responsible for their dysfunction are identified. 

The rings are realigned gently by the therapist’s hands while giving you cues to correct them yourself. The muscles may be massaged, dry-needled, or stretched to help you achieve this.

The therapist trained in the thoracic ring approach will then teach you exercises to correct the alignment of your rings yourself and restore movement using the correct muscles.


Yoga classes here at  Physio Therapy Yoga reinforce the Thoracic Rings Approach. We provide many tips for improving your posture and correcting muscular imbalances.


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