I thought I would pick my first post back in a few years to be a bit of a social experiment. Hopefully not coming off as controversial as thats the last thing it is meant to be, but rather just something for fun to see what people would say.
If you could pick one “rehab” or “corrective” exercise to give out on a global scale to the general public what would it be? Not for any one specific condition, but just one exercise to the general public that you think if people were to do this exercise on a somewhat regular basis should help prevent injury, help with aches and pains, and/or help with many different specific injuries as well. Walking every day can’t be used as an answer as one person I ran this question by said. Obviously I realize this is an impossible question and everyone differs so greatly that you can’t make such a global statement, but I wanted to see what other healthcare practitioners, trainers and active individuals that follow my blog would say.
I expect lots would say diaphragmatic breathing, hip hinging, different “core” drills, different glute activation drills, ass to the grass squat holds for mobility, hip flexor mobilizing, single leg balancing, Cat/Camels or just straight up squatting and deadlifting amongst others. All are good answers. From working on big toe extension/foot intrinsics to deep neck flexors/chin retractions, all could be argued for.
For me, I personally think the one exercise that is the most important for the general public to do is to work on their thoracic mobility into extension. There are many ways to do this and some of the other exercises should be done in combination with the one I have chosen. However, if I were to choose one it would be to work on thoracic extension over a foam roller or peanut (2-tennis balls).
This is important for several reasons. With the way our world is today, our postures are eroding. Slumped over desks all day, buried into our phones, and driving everywhere we are collapsing into thoracic flexion and often becoming very immobile into extension. It is a recipe for posture disaster. By no means am I claiming that working on your thoracic spine extension 5 minutes a day will defeat 23 hours and 55 minutes of poor body awareness, but I do think it can help combat the damage we put ourselves through daily as well as give us more potential to improve our overall posture on our own. Improving thoracic extension (and rotation) is an important part in most cases of lower back pain and most upper extremity injuries as well.
Here is a video of me performing the exercise on a foam roller. Note how I am not letting myself flare excessively into lumbar extension, I’m supporting my neck, and I am trying to force the movement to occur at the thoracic spine. You can start with some rolling, do some directed extensions and even do some rotations as well. The same exercise can be done on a peanut (seen in picture below) as well for more specific thoracic extension issues where as the foam roller is often better for people that are very limited on a more global scale.
Obviously this exercise wouldn’t be ideal for everybody, but no exercise is. On a global scale, pretty much everyone can do this and have some benefit from it. What would you choose?