The thoracic spine. AKA the T-spine.
The T-spine is fundamental to running.
The T-spine is the upper and mid-back region, including everything between the shoulder blades. It consists of 12 vertebrae that sit between the cervical and lumbar spine, which are denoted T1 to T12. While the cervical spine is important for flexibility and the lumbar spine adds power and stability, the T-spine serves a very important purpose of stabilization, protection, and rotation, especially while you run.
The biggest reason for T-spine injuries is today’s modern lifestyle, in which slouching and poor posture are pretty much par for the course. We sit too much without sitting well. Stress is also a contributor, as many of us hold extra tension in our back.
There are several variables influenced by the T-spine:
Posture. Running technique depends on posture. Posture depends on the T-spine. A limber T-spine is the foundation of good running posture. Muscles in the T-spine region from the mid-back to shoulders provide much needed support to keep a runner upright and in good form. Additionally, a healthy T-spine allows just the right amount of rotation through the spine to promote efficiency. When the T-spine is locked up and kyphosis is present, this area of the back and spine will not function efficiently causing other muscles to compensate and work overtime. This has a trickle-down effect through the entire body, not only leading to poor biomechanics but also to an increased injury risk.
Arm Swing. The T-spine directly affects arm swing. We want shoulders pulled back and down with elbows at roughly 90 degrees. However, if the T- spine is tight and locked up, the shoulders will likely round forward excessively, the elbow angle becomes greater than 90 degrees, and this lengthened “lever” (i.e. the arm) forces the runner to create more force to propel forward. Extra tightness and torque in the chest lead to lower leg and hip inefficiency. Everything in the body is connected.
Core Strength. The T-spine allows for actualization of core and hip strength. If the T-spine is locked up, we literally lose the ability for the core to function dynamically and strongly while running. All the planks and sit-ups in the world will not solve this problem. We know that a functionally-strong core promotes quality and efficient running, not to mention injury-free running. And “core” includes the hips and their ability to move well.
Underlying Weaknesses. Sometimes a rigid T-spine is the direct result of other weaknesses while running or just living in general. In other words, the T-spine will stiffen to save you from your sloppy form. If your core is weak to begin with, it can put extra strain on the T-spine, causing it to become overly stiff because it’s having to work overtime. Also, if hip flexors are tight and causing an anterior pelvic tilt (pulling the pelvis forward), the T-spine compensates by stiffening up to provide any support possible.
So, now you know a little more about your T-spine!
A couple of weekends ago, A and I traveled to Asheville for a college roommate’s wedding! It was so much fun catching up with friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in years! The wedding was just beautiful! As is the area! And the bride and groom are perfect for each other!
After the wedding we hiked around Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Gorge Falls. It was extremely foggy, but it was still a fun morning!
And then we spent the afternoon at the Biltmore Estate! I just love this place! I don’t think you can visit too many times!
So, there you have our Asheville trip in a nutshell!
Quote of the Day:
“The starting point of all achievements is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat.” -Napolean Hill
There is a girl at my office who makes this chocolate chip cookie recipe that was in the New York Times EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND. And she brings them into the office EVERY. SINGLE. MONDAY. Are you kidding me?? But they are delicious! And you should be aware that the dough requires quite a bit of refrigeration time, so this is not a chocolate chip cookie recipe you want to make on a whim!
New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
- 1 ⅔ cups bread flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
- chocolate chips
- Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
- Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
- Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Courtesy of New York Times