Exercises To Improve Your Thoracic Mobility

thoracic mobility

COVID-19 brought lots of things to us and one thing it brought to us from a musculoskeletal approach is the need for more thoracic mobility. As if we weren’t sedentary enough, when everything came to a screeching halt, we went from ergonomically designed offices and schools that offered breaks where you move between classes to our beds all day. And once the school day or office day ended, a lot of us remained in our beds or couches being sedentary. I don’t need to preach about it but let’s face it, we sat for longer than normal likely with worse posture and with a lot more stress than normal for most people. Everyone needs a little thoracic mobility in their lives right now so let’s take a look at some of my favorite exercises for thoracic mobility!

How To Foam Roll Your Midback

First Move:

  1. Place the foam roller under your midback with your hips elevated and your hands behind your head with your elbows in
  2. Using your legs, roll gently back and forth from the bottom of your shoulder blades to the base of your neck
  3. If you need to, you can break it into top and bottom half

Second Move:

  1. Start in the same position as the first move except now your hips will be on the ground
  2. Use the foam roller as a fulcrum and extend straight backwards on a thoracic segment
  3. Be sure that you do not hyperextend your low back
  4. Pick 2-3 areas and hold for about 30 seconds in each area

How To Do The Thoracic Prayer Exercise

  1. Place your elbows on something like a bed, bench or couch while holding an object such as a foam roller that is shoulder width
  2. Move your arms over your head while you focus on pushing your chest towards the ground
  3. The more narrow your elbows are, the more you will feel it in the midback

How to Thread The Needle For Thoracic Rotation

  1. Start on all fours with your knees underneath your hips
  2. Take your hand with the palm up and thread it underneath the opposite shoulder
  3. As the hand stretches across, you will drop the shoulder on the same side to allow for maximal rotation of the thoracic spine
  4. Stretch as far as what is comfortable for you

How To Do An Easy Thoracic Extension/Rotation Exercise

  1. Sit on the ground with your butt towards your heels and one hand behind your head and the elbow as high as what is comfortable
  2. While maintaining this position, simply look up while pushing the midback towards the floor
  3. Make sure that your back stays flat and that the elbow height doesn’t change

How To Relieve Neck And Shoulder Tension Using A Ball

Upper Trapezius

  1. Squat into a football player type position at the corner of a wall
  2. Wedge the ball into the upper trap area
  3. Roll up and down or side-to-side

Midback

  1. Place the ball between the spine and shoulder blade
  2. Pull the arm across the body to open up the area
  3. Roll up and down or side-to-side

Shoulder

  1. Stand at a 45 degree angle to the wall
  2. Pull your arm across the body
  3. Wedge the ball on the posterior aspect of the shoulder
  4. Roll up and down or side-to-side

What Exercises Should I Do?

That’s entirely up to you! I generally show patients multiple moves and let them pick what they like the best. My general recommendation is to do thoracic mobility 2-3x daily but if you sit all day, even more than that. I think of it a lot like distance running, consistency is key. It is better to do it 2x daily for a couple minutes then to pick one day and do it 6x for an hour total. No one can sit with perfect posture all day long. Everyone can do exercises for thoracic mobility so start the habit today!

Brian Damhoff DC MS

Owner, Elite Performance Institute, Naperville, IL | Assistant Track and Field Coach Naperville Central High School | Team Chiropractor Northern Illinois University Track and Field/Cross Country | Doctorate of Chiropractic | Masters in Sports Rehabilitation

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