Free Mobility Hacks | Thoracic Spine

The thoracic spine is also known as our upper back. Modern day patterns cause a majority of us to have thoracic stiffness. Most things that we do have a frontal fixation. Almost everything we do has our arms right in front of us. The most thought about probably being sitting at a computer, but what about other things we may do daily: driving a car, cooking, reading, pushing a grocery cart, texting, cleaning, carrying a baby… it all adds up. If we spend enough time in these frontal positions it becomes the norm. We can see this problem, a rounding of the upper back and shoulders falling forward but it is much worse functionally. Our quality of movement suffers greatly!

Thoracic mobility work can benefit everyone. It can give us more range of motion to perform better and simply make us feel better and more comfortable. Starting off with the extension drills will help loosen up the tissue of the thoracic spine.

Consistency is key to making a difference in the T-spine, it may not be the most fun part of training and bettering yourself, but it is necessary!

1. Start with a foam roller each time and graduate to a peanut after a minute (two lacrosse balls taped together, or softballs for less direct intensity)
Put what you are using at the lower end or your upper back, no lower than your rib cage, hug your arms across your chest, move side to side, lift your arms above your head and back down. You are looking for extension in your T-spine, keep your ribs in line with your hips and don’t let them flare out (think of holding your abs tight, this will help avoid over extension). Move around like this with the foam roller/peanut at different areas on your thoracic spine.
–> Goal to shoot for: with a peanut, place it no lower than the ribs, start with your arms straight and hands by your side, raise and lower your arms (to an overhead position) 100x adjusting the placement of the peanut to different spots on the thoracic. The middle of the peanut should always be where your spine is, no direct pressure on the spine.

2. Get a PVC and a box and kneel with it in front of you.
Place your elbows on the box while holding the PVC with palms up, bring your hips back towards your feet and press your chest towards the ground. While doing this, slowly bring the PVC over your head. Hold for a few seconds, return to the top and repeat. This will also improve thoracic spine extension.

3. Help with thoracic spine rotation.
Set up a band at chest height on a rack, hold it at the end and walk out with it until you feel tension. With the band at your chest, spread your feet wider than shoulder width, then press your arm straight out. While keeping the hips stable, and bracing the core, slowly turn the shoulders and thoracic spine towards the rack. Once you find your limit to where you can keep the hips stable, and not sacrifice the shoulders or elbows, turn back to the midline. It is very important that the rotation comes from the T-Spine, not from pulling with the arms.

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