Your trunk, aka. your torso makes up the bulk of your body and houses most of your vital organs like your heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. It is a complex structure that performs many important roles;
- It provides protection for these important organs – so it must be rigid enough to be resistant to impact.
- It houses the spinal cord – so again it must be rigid enough to protect and resist impact, but it must also allow free passage of nerves to our muscles, joints, organs, and basically every bit of the body.
- It acts as the foundation for your head and limbs to attach to – so it has a key role in how we project, move and stabilise our arms, legs and head.
- Lastly, it must allow force and load transfer between the upper body and lower limbs – critical for standing upright and walking (unlike our predecessors).
We see people present with upper back and rib pain all the time but these are not the only people with trunk dysfunction. In fact many trunk dysfunctions will present as pain at other areas of the body. We often see shoulder injuries, neck pain, headaches or low back pain where the primary area of dysfunction is actually the trunk or thoracic cage!
To do all of these things well we need to have a combination of strength, flexibility and full body coordination. It is very common for people living modern lifestyles to lose thoracic mobility and flexibility, because many of us do not use our full range of motion at work, or play.