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Thoracic Mobility Exercises | Performance Ground
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Thoracic Mobility Exercises

Thoracic Mobility Exercises

Thoracic Mobility Exercises

How To Improve Your Thoracic Spine Mobilization

The term thoracic refers to a portion of the spine that start from the mid back and goes all the way to the upper back. This is a vital area to have mobility in due to its involvement in various movements. The common thing associated with this is shoulders that are slumped over. Imagine yourself at your work desk sat hunched over, your spine rounded and the muscles tighten around the upper back. Immobility here, can lead to injuries to the shoulder and lower back. In this article, we are going to discuss thoracic mobility exercises that can be used to increase the mobility and then, strengthen that region.

THE VIDEO: Thoracic Mobility Exercises – How To Improve Your Thoracic Spine Mobilization

Thoracic tightness

Thoracic tightness means that the thoracic will be unable to extend (flatten). This will limit the ability of the shoulder blade to move and make the shoulders unstable. Imagine someone overhead pressing. If they can’t push straight up due to thoracic tightness, they will not be able to move efficiently increasing the risk of injury at the shoulder. Also, in order for them to get more range in the shoulders they will arch the lower back. This can cause undue pressure on the lumbar spine and may lead to an injury in that region.

Thoracic mobility exercises

We will look into mobility exercises that can be performed in order to improve thoracic extension. Read this alongside watching the video “Thoracic Mobility Exercises” to create an overall picture of these movements.

Myofacial release

Using a foam roller, lay your mid to upper back on it, hands will grab opposite shoulders, this will move your shoulder blades out the way and expose the musculature. This is to temporarily loosen up the tight muscles in that area for slightly more range of motion within the thoracic. A peanut, two tennis balls together, can be used as well to get a more specific pressure on certain areas, if a foam roller is not enough.

Foam roller extension

Laying on the foam roller as described above, place a lacrosse ball on the floor and press your lower back into the ball. Throughout the whole movement, your lower back must remain in contact with the ball. Now, with your thoracic, you will try and extend it, relaxing, letting the head and shoulders fall backwards.

Prayer Stretch

In a quadruped position, rock your bum back to your heels, push your hands into the floor and try and push your chest towards the floor. This will result in the upper back trying to extend and feel a stretch there as a result. Try not to arch the lower back. Otherwise, this will take the stretch away. This stretch can be made more difficult by placing the hands on a foam roller which, places a greater ability to extend through the upper back.

Box T-Spine Stretch

Firstly, get a box or a bench and a dowel or stick. In a kneeling position close to the box/bench, hold the stick in a V position where, elbows rest on the bench close together with hands holding the stick wider. Similarly, to the prayer stretch, rock the bum back towards the heels, pushing the chest to the floor and pulling the stick back behind the head. Again, with this you will try to extend the upper back.

The spine moves similarly, through extension as it does with rotation. Therefore, we can use rotational exercises to improve extension. Below are a few rotational exercises for the thoracic.

Rotational thoracic mobility exercises


Lying on your side with knees and hips partly bent, arms will be out in front of you. Whilst still facing one direction, one arm is going to rotate to try and touch the floor behind. Knees and hips will stay pointing in the same direction to ensure that the rotation comes through the back.

Thread the needle

In the quadruped position, one hand is going to reach through between the opposite knee and hand and reach as far as possible. This will rotate the shoulders and upper back to face that direction.

Seated rotations

Sitting on a box/bench with feet flat, hands on opposite shoulder, trying to rotate chest to the left and then to the right, keeping the hips facing forward.

Squat with rotation

This is to incorporate thoracic mobility into other movements. Here, the idea is to get to a bottom squat position, have elbows inside knees, take one arm and point it upwards, whilst rotating with the mid back. Then same again with the other arm.

Thoracic mobility is essential for proper shoulder movement and stability alongside lower back stability. Performing the thoracic mobility exercises demonstrated above will help with the ability to extend the thoracic. A consistent 8 weeks of performing these mobility exercises once a day should show improvements in the thoracic.

Are you desk bound suffering from neck, lower back or shoulder pain and need help with improving your mobility? Book your free fitness consultation today!

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