Twist to Fix Upper Back Pain

Twist to Fix Upper Back Pain

Did you know that your spine has sections, and each section has a different job to do?

The area between your neck and lower back is called the THORACIC spine or the THORACIC vertebra.

This area of the spine is responsible for most of the rotation of the trunk and torso.  

It also has a naturally occurring rounded curve and all the ribs attach to these vertebra…12 in total!

Our modern “sitting” lifestyle doesn’t support great function of this area of the spine and can contribute to upper back pain, tightness and stiffness and even injury.

Here are four main reasons people experience upper back pain:  


When posture is functional and balanced, each area of the spine is doing its job with great efficiency and all the spine is working in synergy.  With a stiff thoracic spine, the natural rounded curve increases (the dreaded back hump) and the ability to straighten up and rotate is decreased.

There is no part of the body that works in isolation, and poor upper back posture can cause all sorts of issues in the rest of the spine, shoulders and hips.

Posture is the foundation of the PILATES method of exercise, developing strength and mobility in every single part of the spine.


Effective breathing requires the ribs to move, and all the ribs attach to the thoracic spine.  

If the thoracic spine is stiff and tight, chances are that the ribs will be stiff and tight too! This can lead to an inability to take a full inhale and exhale and either under or over breathe.  

Breathing is pretty important! It’s one of the main movement principles in PILATES. Complete co-ordination of the breath with PILATES exercises, actually stretches and releases tight ribs and contributes to flexibility in the thoracic spine.


How many times during the day do you twist? And do you twist of roll?  

There will be certain activities that require your body to rotate. Looking over your shoulder, housework, even walking requires rotation of the thoracic spine.

If you do not have the ability to twist the thoracic spine, the body will find a way to perform daily activities, usually with what’s called a “compensation”.

A common walking compensation is to twist on the lower back, rather than the thoracic spine. Another compensation when looking over your shoulder is to roll the entire body, or in a standing position, having to turn around.  

 If these compensations go on for a long period of time, they can lead to “lifestyle” injuries or chronic aches and pains that never seem to go away.



Sporting activities like golf, tennis, kayaking, swimming and many more require thoracic rotation. And some sports, like cycling have no need for rotation at all.

Whatever the sporting activity, there is one thing in common element and that is repetition.

You repeat the same movement over and over again, and if you have a stiff spine, you are doing the movements with “compensations”.

Not only does this impact the effectiveness and efficiency of the activity, but it can also be the underlying cause of many sporting injuries.

Many professional athletes include PILATES in their training regime. They know it not only helps with their performance but contributes to injury prevention.


The PILATES method of exercise will not only mobilise and strengthen your upper back and eliminate upper back, it will also teach you how to maintain your spine health not only for daily life, but also for the duration of your life!

Book a FREE Consultation today and learn how Pilates can help you with mobility and core strength, by filling in the form on this page.

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