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 made up of your spinal vertebrae (backbone), discs (between the vertebrae), two ribs – one on each side, rib cartilages and the sternum or breast bone.
3 major functions:
- To support breathing
- To provide a support and framework for the 4 limbs to move and apply force
- To protect the heart, lungs, and other important vascular and nervous structures.
The rib cage is a major center of rotation and of balance for the body.
The rib cage is not solid or fixed like a birdcage, each ring rotates and moves on the ring above and below. It is moves like a slinky. Each ring has 12 joints and other cartilaginous connections.
Muscles attach to the thoracic rings. They come from the shoulder, neck, abdomen, and lower back. The thoracic rings can influence the body’s movement by these connections.
If one or more rings are stiff or out of alignment, pulled by tight muscles, it can affect your balance and how you walk or move. It can even be the cause of foot or knee pain, headaches, and shoulder pain.
How are they relevant to Low Back Pain?
The lower back is typically affected. The joints in the lower back do not allow it to rotate very much whereas the thorax does.
For many of us, our lifestyle comprises of sitting for extended periods of time causing compression of the spine and rib cage.
Compression in this area is another cause for stiffness. Stiffness affects the muscles and limbs which rely on the thoracic rib cage mobility.
Thoracic Rings Approach™ and 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.” This approach was created by Dr. LJ Lee, in Canada.
Treatment involves identifying the particular rings that are compressed or not moving in 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 learn how to correct them yourself. The muscles can be dry needled, massaged, or simply 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 functional movement using the correct muscles.
Treatment using the Thoracic Ring Approach™ restores efficient walking, takes stress off knees and feet, restores good posture, better breathing, shoulder function and balance.
The yoga classes we offer here at Physio Therapy Yoga reinforce the Thoracic Rings Approach. They also provide more tips for managing your posture and muscular imbalances to enable you to retain optimal good health and wellbeing.