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What we’ll cover
  1. What is the thoracic spine?
  2. Why do I get thoracic spine pain?
  3. What can I do for my upper back stiffness?
  4. How can physiotherapy assist my upper back pain?

Foam roller exercises for back pain

Upper back stiffness and pain is a common condition that can be easily treated and managed. Symptoms can include pain, tightness and stiffness around the upper back, neck and shoulders. Our physiotherapist Jason Lee identifies three exercises using your foam roller to assist with not only providing relief from symptoms but preventing back pain.

What is the thoracic spine?

The thoracic spine (of middle back) is a collection of 12 vertebrae. T1 – T12 connect the lumbar (lower back) spine to the cervical region (neck). Your thoracic spine provides the body with core stability and protects a number of the vital organs of the chest including the heart and lungs. Additionally, your ribs also connect to the thoracic spine via the costovertebral joints.

Why do I get thoracic spine pain?

There are many reasons why people develop upper back pain and stiffness. Muscle tension associated with sustained and poor posture is one of the most common causes. Given that this is one of the primary causes of back stiffness, ensuring an ergonomic desk set up both at home and in the office is a great starting point.

In the older population, arthritis can affect the joints or conditions such as osteoporosis can cause compression fractures of the vertebrae.

Given the location of the ribs, irritation or sprains of the costovertebral joints can cause localised pain when breathing or discomfort with any task that involves increasing the intra-abdominal pressure.

What can I do for my upper back stiffness?

The foam roller is a great piece of equipment to assist with muscle tension and stiffness in the upper back. These exercises are great for assisting with improving mobility with extension (leaning back) and twisting (rotation).

These exercises should not cause discomfort or pain.

How can physiotherapy assist my upper back pain?

Physiotherapists are well placed to thoroughly assess your upper back pain. An assessment will examine your flexibility and strength. Effective treatment techniques for upper back pain include massage, mobilisations or manipulations to provide pain relief and restore flexibility. Your physiotherapist will also provide a strengthening program in order to prevent the issue reoccurring. Clinical pilates has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for those that may experience on going thoracic pain or stiffness.

If you are experiencing upper back pain, contact our friendly team. Call us or book online today.


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Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone. Shoulder impingement can be incredibly frustrating and painful. 

Tony has been working closely with our physiotherapists Vernon and Dilen to get on top of his shoulder pain. His treatment plan has included hands-on physiotherapy and individualised exercises in our hydrotherapy and strength programs.

You Deserve to Feel Good.

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