Last week I worked on a golfer who came in complaining of limited thoracic rotation.
We performed a basic seated rotation test and found… no limitation at all. Curious.
Moving onto manual muscle testing, we found that his left pec major clavicular, right lat, and left external oblique were all inhibited. Things were getting stranger by the minute. This certainly suggested issues with rotation.
For the heck of it, I asked him to sit back up and re-perform the thoracic rotation test. This time he was missing about 30 degrees of rotation to the right. Significantly different.
What was dissimilar about this test than our initial evaluation?
During the initial test he had his arms folded across his chest with his hands on the opposite shoulder. This time his arms were wide out to the side.
I asked him to hug his arms across his chest again and repeat the test and sure enough, back to full range of motion.
It was officially time to put on the sleuth hat.
Why would these two positions produce such drastically different results?
What was being down-regulated with the arms folded across the chest?
Or up-regulated with the arms out to the side?
The answer? Dysfunctional golgi stretch receptors in the sternocostal ligaments.
With the arms hugged tightly across the chest, it was effectively unloading these ligaments and allowing him to achieve proper range of motion. With the arms wide to the side, he was increasing stimulus of these golgis, and therefore increasing the dysfunction.
When the clues are all pointing you in a different direction than your original assumptions, test, and re-test.
The body is already providing you with all the clues you need to solve nearly any dysfunction.
As a practitioner we just have to uncover them.