Thoracic Rings Approach™

Thoracic Rings Approach™

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 who comes to Australia a couple of times a year to teach.

The Thorax (mid-spine) and the Thoracic Rings (Ribs + breast bone + vertebrae)

The thorax is the mid section of our body and contains the heart, lungs, and other important structures within a skeletal framework. The thorax consists of spinal vertebrae (back bone), intervertebral  discs (between the vertebrae), the ribs, rib cartilages and the sternum (breast bone).

The thorax or rib cage region has 3 major functions:

  1. To support the breath
  2. To provide the stability from which the limbs move and apply force
  3. To protect the organs

The rib cage is a major center of rotation and balance for the body. The lower back does not rotate very much whereas the thorax does. The thorax is also the platform on which the head, neck and shoulders move.

For many of us our lifestyles tend to sitting for extended periods of time which causes compression of the spine and rib cage. Compression of this region restricts rotation and also effects the muscles and limbs which rely on the thoracic rib cage as a base support for moving.

The Thoracic Rings

The thorax is made up of thoracic rings. A thoracic ring is made up of two ribs, a spinal vertebra (sometimes two) and the sternum. There are 10 thoracic rings in the rib cage and two floating ribs at the bottom (they don’t complete a ring therefore are not called a ring). The rib cage is not solid or fixed like a bird cage, each ring rotates and moves on the ring above and below, a bit like a slinky. Muscles attach from the thoracic rings to the shoulder, neck, the abdominal muscles and lower back. As described above, the thoracic rings can influence parts of the body far away from it by these connections.

If one or a few rings are stiff or pulled more to one side by a tight or uneven muscle pull it can affect our centre of mass off and result in poor balance. Poor balance (from a stiff thorax) can affect the feet and ankles.  Headaches and shoulder pain are also common ailments seen from thoracic ring displacements or stiffness.

Thoracic Rings Approach™ and Treatment

Treatment involves identifying particular rings that may not be moving as they should and assessing the cause of that dysfunction.

Once the aberrant rings are identified, and the muscles or joints responsible for their dysfunction are identified, the rings are realigned gently by the therapist’s hands and by cues guiding you as to how to correct it yourself, which muscles to relax and allow the body to return to alignment. The muscles may need massage or laser or dry needling to help this process. The therapist will then teach you exercises to move the body using the correct muscles.

Treatment using the Thoracic Ring Approach™ restores good posture, better breathing, shoulder function and balance.

The yoga classes that we offer here at Physio Body & Sole, North Sydney reinforce the Thoracic Rings Approach providing ongoing exercise support and more tips for managing your postural and muscular corrections yourself, to give you optimal health and wellbeing.

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