Thoracic Spine Mobility 21/02/2017

It’s easy to get our bodies into positions we are used to and not notice how much damage can be made in the short or long term. We can spend hours on our phones, tablets and computers without knowing the negative effects these postures create. A slumped posture with rounded shoulders and our heads almost buried into our chests is popular but poor posture using devices.


In sports, we can adopt similar positions which can cause numerous issues we may not about know until it’s too late! Here are a couple of examples…

Cycling – If you cycle for long distances or go for speed/power, being on the bike (indoors or outdoors) will put you into a rounded upper body position. Shoulders rounded and over the handle bars, arms close and hands gripping tight may create a more aerodynamic position, but will increase upper back flexion and tighten those shoulders up!

Running – If you keep your head and shoulders leaning forwards, with your arms always in front of you while running you could develop a rounded upper back posture. Or if you just keep your arms forwards with very little swing/movement backwards, you can create mobility problems.


I’ve uploaded 2 short videos below, one you just need a foam roller. The other you need a chair with a low back rest, so you can easily perform this at work!


Supine Thoracic Extension with Shoulder External Rotation

  1. Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Lie down onto the foam roller and adjust your position so the foam roller is across your shoulder blades.
  2. Place arms in front of you, with elbows straight and palms facing your feet.
  3. Rotate entire arms outwards so your palms will be facing the ceiling.
  4. Maintain this position with your arms and move them past your shoulders and above your head.
  5. Lean further back onto the foam roller by dropping your head slowly towards the floor.
  6. Preferably you want to create a ‘Y’ shape with your arms and upper body. The stretch won’t be effective in the front of the shoulder if arms are directly above your head.

This stretch will not only help with Thoracic mobility but also helps to stretch the front shoulder & pectoral muscles. Try to hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds or longer. Just be careful when you get up, you may get some head rush! If so, sit up slowly.


Seated Thoracic Extension

  1. Sit on a chair with a low back rest. Position yourself so your back is in contact with the back rest.
  2. Interlock fingers and place hands behind your head. Separate elbows by squeezing shoulder blades together.
  3. Lean backwards against the back of the chair, and keep the position of your shoulders & elbows.
  4. Try not to lift your hips from the chair to increase the stretch, it won’t make the stretch more effective

Try to spend at least 20-30 seconds performing this stretch, maybe even longer if required. If you are aware of poor mobility in your upper body, performing this a few times a day can still reap rewards.


Before you try these stretches, make sure you consult an injury therapist or your Doctor to make sure you can perform the stretches safely.

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