5 Joint Actions of the Thoracic Spine: Anatomy of Movement in the Flow of Qi

Anatomy of Movement in the Flow of Qi is a comprehensive, fundamental course of both classical and cutting edge study of the Essential Fundamentals of Kinesiology and Movement Behavior Analysis Protocol. This information is beneficial for those in the healing and healthcare profession and can be used as curriculum for those studying to provide healing and care taking services.

This article will cover just one particular topic of interest: Five joint actions of the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine has 12 vertebrae. Each vertebrae is considered a sliding joint. This is to provide support for the rib cage, not allowing the ribs to flare out too far during the action of hyperextension, thus injuring the supporting muscles or making the organs encased in the rib cage vulnerable to injury. This also restricts the movement of rotation in the thoracic spine, again for the purpose of creating a stable and protective container for the lungs and heart, the two most important organs for our immediate survival.

The muscles required for each type of movement are listed below. Please refer to anatomy text to visually see each muscle and perceive the logic of what bones will be moved when it contracts.

Notice the combination’s of muscles and how they create specific directions of movement when used together, and conversely how they cannot create that movement when contracting alone. Some are for stability and alignment in the groups, and some are the main movers creating the specific joint action.

1. Flexion-The rectus adbominis, external obliques (both sides), internal obliques (both sides) create flexion. The upper body lowers toward the pelvis and legs, or the pelvis and legs come toward the chest.

2. Extension– The erector spinae leans backward, shortening the distance between the upper back and the lower back.

3. Rotation to opposite side – The external obliques (one side), semispinalis thoracis, and deep posterior spinal muscles contract to rotate the spine either to the right or to the left.

4. Rotation to the same side- Theinternal oblique (one side) and erector spinae (thoracic and lumbar portions) contract to rotate the spine toward themselves.

5. Lateral Flexion –The external obliques, (singularly to opposite side), Internal obliques (singularly to same side), erector spinae, (thoracic and lumbar portions) and quadratus lumborum, (same side) all contract to bend the spine sideways bringing the chest toward the pelvis either to the right or to the left.