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May 7, 2018

Thoracic Mobility Exercises for Home

In the past, I have discussed the importance of good posture. Posture exudes confidence and good posture allows us to maintain muscle balance. Having poor muscle balance (some muscles are stronger, weaker, or tighter) means we are more prone to injury and pain. So for Pete’s sake, work on your posture!

That classic rounded posture so many of us have developed from being stuck at a computer involves a few errors: forward head, rounded shoulders, and rounded upper back. Let’s take a closer look at just one aspect of practicing good posture today: thoracic posture.

The Thoracic Spine

Your spine is made up of the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (mid back), and lumbar spine (low back). The thoracic spine contains 12 vertebrae that run from your upper back down to your mid back: each vertebrae connecting to our 12 ribs. The thoracic spine naturally is slightly kyphotic meaning it is rounded just slightly or curved outward. However many of us exhibit increased kyphosis (too much flexion curvature) and we get really stiff in our mid backs. This can cause pain and muscle tension in our upper backs due to the lack of mobility here. So how can we fix this? We can work on achieving better thoracic mobility and more thoracic extension.

How to Improve Thoracic Mobility

To improve posture, we must first work on balancing out our muscles. This often means stretching our chest muscles and strengthening our mid back muscles. This will make it easier for us to pull our shoulder down and back to achieve better posture.

But what about the thoracic spine? To improve thoracic mobility and achieve better thoracic extension, we can do specific exercises that laser focus on our thoracic spine. These exercises will promote more thoracic extension (or straightening instead of rounding/flexing) and more thoracic mobility. As a result, we will get better thoracic movement and have less pain in our mid backs, low backs, necks, and even shoulders!

All of these exercises can be done at home or at a gym. You would benefit from having access to a foam roller, a chair, and a resistance band. Rep recommendations are listed in the videos. They should be done daily for better outcomes. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes of your valuable time and it will save you money in the long run because you won’t need massage or therapy to address future pain.

Remember, we are focusing on our thoracic spine, not our lumbar spine. So keep your low back stable and focus on achieving movement through your thoracic region with each exercise. Here we go...

See all the exercises in the 2 videos below

The Best Thoracic Mobility Exercises

  1. Foam roller self thoracic massage
  2. Foam roller snow angels
  3. Thoracic extension or self mobilization over foam roller
  4. Bow and Arrows
  5. Quadruped unilateral arm extension
  6. Quadruped unilateral thoracic rotation
  7. Child's pose stretch with chair 
  8. Chair seated thoracic rotation
  9. Camel stretch

The Best Thoracic Strengthening Exercises

  1. Squat with Overhead Reach
  2. Foam Roller Shoulder External Rotation
  3. Resistance band rows
  4. Resistance band high rows
  5. Resistance band lat pull downs
  6. Resistance band thoracic spine twist
  7. Resistance band thoracic twist in quadruped

I hope these exercises help you feel better! Comment below if you try them and let me know how they go. 🙂


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