This drill requires T-spine extension coupled with shoulder extension which can be a challenge if you aren’t accustomed to moving this way. Activate the muscles of your upper back and shoulder to help improve your posture and maintain the thoracic extension you’re working hard to improve with the foam rolling and stretching. If you are not substantially better then there are other contributing factors that this article doesn’t address. This means that you can begin to taper down the frequency of your routine and focus more on activation exercises. The two are closely related and diaphragmatic breathing is linked with so much more. Thoracic spine mobilising exercises Got the hump? Do not push your head forward. If you look like this on both sides then congratulations! This position is still pretty simple for your brain to work with so it isn’t too challenging for most people. Some of these stretches can also help improve your posture, breathing, and digestion. This is one of the most challenging activation exercises because it requires input from the ankles, knees, hips, T-spine, and shoulders. Your thoracic spine is the middle portion of your back, you can think of it as your rib cage. Now that you know how well your T-spine moves you need to learn how to fix improve it. Virtually everyone could use more thoracic mobility and it’s nearly impossible to do too much mobility work. Just like the lumbar locked rotation, I mentioned above this exercise is very common. You can also read more about the process we use to build mobility programs here. For example, the occurrence of shoulder pain in people with a rounded t-spine (kyphosis) is similar to that of people with less kyphosis. After a couple of weeks, it’s usually a good idea to perform the thoracic mobility assessment again. Continue until you pass your shoulder blades. Sometimes learning how to control movement means going slow. This is It is also incredibly challenging for scapular stability. A simple side-lying exercise that helps to mobilizes one side of your thoracic spine at a time. “Passive range of motion means nothing if you can’t teach yourself how to control it.”. Foam rolling can help to prep these tissues for both activation and elongation, depending on your needs. Start sitting down slowly and pull your head down. Now not only are you bringing your shoulder blade into the movement but you are reaching into an overhead position. This is more than a thoracic mobility stretch. In fact, thoracic mobility issues are in the top 3 most common mobility problems, along with the hips and ankles. Start with your arms in the "W" position and slowly turn them into "I" position. To perform a thoracic spine joint mobilization, lie on your back with your arms crossed in front of you. Stretching and Strengthening of the thoracic extensor muscles can be achieved by following exercises: Cow -Cat stretch To perform: Begin in quadruped (hands and knees) with knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Sink onto the barrel and extend your upper spine backwards. You can add resistance to this one for an extra challenge. But of course, I always include at least one activation drill. So it only stands to reason that improving mobility at this crucial area of the spine can be helpful for a large group of orthopaedic complaints. The thoracic spine (the part of the spine that starts just below the neck to half-way down the back) is often a neglected part of the body, which is surprising considering that it is as prone to stiffness as other parts of the spine, but not so surprising since it is a difficult area of the body to stretch. Inhale slowly while curling your chest off the ground by using your back muscles. Squat down, reach up with one arm, and hold at the top for 3-5 seconds. Try it with low to moderate weight and hold for time. You may even notice problems in some everyday rotation tasks like reaching across your body to grab your seatbelt. He loves sharing and is enthusiastic about helping anybody who wants to move better and train pain-free. You wouldn’t need to waste your time focusing on thoracic extension. Finally, after this one to two-week taper, you can stick to doing a couple of activation exercises 1 to 2 times per week. The lats connect the low and mid-back to the humerus (arm bone). While thoracic mobility drills are important, it’s also important to enhance thoracic extension endurance. They are big, strong, and flat muscles that provide a lot of pulling power. Peanut Thoracic Extension – A great way to really release and relax the muscles along your spine while putting your spine through extension is with the Peanut Thoracic Extension. Ian has been practicing as an Athletic Trainer for over 14 years. The result is that you need to both forcefully retract your shoulder blades and extend your t-spine. The overhead squat is already a challenge for the whole body but adding the bands really ties in thoracic stability. Ensure that 95% of the force comes from your back. This thoracic mobility assessment should always be your first step. Hold for a count of fifteen and repeat to the opposite side. This results in thoracic mobility limitations. Required fields are marked *. With your back toward the wall, pull your arms backwards while maintaining contact with the wall. The angle shown in this photo is close to 35 degrees which falls short of the goal of 50. Put the foam roller under your upper back / thoracic spine. Adequate thoracic extension enables the scapula to sit in the correct position and function correctly. Each area can affect the other and vice versa. It is a whole-body mobility stretch that hits a lot of the major mobility issues. Start by sitting in front of the barrel – ensure your lower back has something for support. Lift your hips toward the ceiling while pressing into your feet. The nature of mobility exercises for this area tends to be gentle enough that doing a high volume won’t cause damage to the area. It is also extremely hard to do too much mobility work to the t-spine. But, If you fail the t-spine assessment then you should follow the mobility exercises in the videos and the program we created below. This will pull your shoulder blades (scapulaes) “out” to the side. The Cat-Cow stretch is another drill I like to work into a daily program. The most important thing you can do is know where you are starting from. Taking deep breaths into your chest opens up the tensioned side even more! Thoracic Extension Exercise – Brugger Stretch Brugger Stretch – great for stretching out the pectoralis muscles and the … But in general, we recommend daily intervention until you see results. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your lower spine in contact with the barrel throughout the movement. After you see some improvements we typically start working in more activation and control exercises and fewer of the passive ones. Because of these factors, you should almost certainly dedicate some time to it. I’ll show an easy drill in this video. Keep bending until you feel a light stretch on the side of your body. Here are a few examples of how the thoracic spine affects other regions of the body. If you don’t also get the correct muscles working, you’ll keep compensating and things will continue to just tighten right back up no matter how much you stretch. I like to do this one daily. In overhead pressing movements thoracic extension allows the shoulder blade to tip back, or posterior tilt. Just a few reps and you can feel a difference in your resting posture. Thoracic extension on foam roller or ball 16 33 34 Kneeling thoracic spine extension stretch 34 Thoracic flexion quadruped with and without roller 35 … It is one of those thoracic spine stretches that require specialized equipment. The supine Y is an excellent upper-level mobility exercise for your thoracic spine and stability exercise for your shoulders. You can easily combine this with the oblique release above. The muscles of the abdominal wall are an often overlooked source of thoracic immobility. Let the arm on the side that you are bending over slide down along your leg. Tuck the pelvic and round your spine while letting your head hang loose. Exhale slowly. To create your own just pick exercises from the lists above and follow the simple instructions below. Beginning with the thoracic extension stretch, start off in a kneeling position. Your email address will not be published. You ready to get your shoulders smoked? These stretchesare generally safe, but it still makes sense to talk to your doctor before trying these, especially if you have serious spinal issues. How to do the Thoracic Spine Extension This exercise will help stretch out the chest and back muscles, relieve muscular tension and maintain thoracic mobility. If you pass your thoracic mobility test you can move into maintenance mode. Give it a shot and don’t worry if you can’t get your arm all the way up. There are a couple of reasons why the thoracic spine tends to be less mobile than the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (low back). Perform 8 … To understand the importance of thoracic mobility we must first touch on the term Kyphosis. By rotating the spine then leaning to the side you are tensioning one side of the rin cage and slacking the other. While putting your hands behind the head, slowly pull your elbows close together. We use several variations of this exercise to help our clients learn to control their core while extending the t-spine. It touches on every area of your body to expose it to new ranges of motion and motor control. Similar to foam rolling the obliques this drill focuses on the abdominal wall muscles as well as commonly tight muscles in the low back, the Quadratus Lumborum (QL). Because your arms are in different positions throughout the exercise it helps create stability for both the shoulders and T-spine. They have a profound effect on the thoracic and lumbar spine, especially when tight. Exhale into the stretch and emphasize getting the hip into extension to maximize the effects of Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30-45 seconds. Bridge pose is another one of effective thoracic spine stretches. Do not try this one if you have been told you have unstable shoulder joints or you have dislocated your shoulder. Get thoracic extension mobility and control and you will take a lot of stress off the other areas of your body. Nine dynamic exercises (Non functional exercises being: 'Thoracic extension on foam roller',33 34 or ball',16 'Kneeling thoracic spine extension stretch',34 Thoracic flexion quadruped with and without roller,35 36 Sidelying side37 38 In this case, the more important factor is how well your thoracic spine moves into extension when you reach overhead. We may request cookies to be set on your device. Take a deep breath. After a set of five, move the balls up the spine and perform another set. Repeat the same on the other side of your body. When the t-spine is tight a common compensation during pressing is to lean back at the lumbar spine, this decreases core stability and leads to compression, pain, and injury. How Compensation Happens in the Neck Any time you move or ask your body to accomplish a task, your body will figure out a way to do it and it … You now know that thoracic spine mobility is critically important for both preventing pain and improving performance. The deep sit thoracic extension exercise is simple and effective in activating the spinal extensor muscles. It is okay to life your hands up a bit to engage your back. This is especially apparent in sports with large rotational components like baseball and golf. This shoulder stability exercise is also a great t-spine mobility exercise. You have good thoracic mobility. The tennis or lacrosse balls should rest on both sides of your spine. Keep your lumbar spine stable and do 4-5  sit-ups. To use the Peanut to improve your Thoracic Extension, you will place the Peanut in your mid-back while lying on your back on the ground with a ball of the peanut on each side of your spine. Allow your head to drop to the ground. If one region fails to do its job then it could affect other areas and have significant consequences. How to Deal with a Bone Spur on the Top of Your Foot, Best Cool Down Exercises to Prevent Injury. You will need the barrel for this stretch. For the first week or two, I typically start people off with more gentle work and soft tissue prep. The thoracic spine, the stack of twelve vertebrae running from the bottom of our rib cage to the base of our neck, is one of the latter. You want to move mostly at the thoracic spine and not so much at the lumbar spine. Your pecs attach the anterior ribs to the humerus and the scapula. Try it out for free by filling out this form. And in addition to extension it will also promote rotation. We’re looking for extension at the T-spine, so make sure the ribs stay in line with the hips and avoid letting them flare out. This will provide space to place the peanut. It is connected to the torso by several muscles and dysfunction in one of them is enough to send the system into disarray. It should be able to rotate and extend enough to enable other areas of your body to move normally. The position of the t-spine will affect how those muscles engage and support the shoulder blades. Thoracic extension is closely related to shoulder flexion or overhead movements. The goal is to rotate to 50 degrees or more. 6. Is It Possible for Adults to Have Growing Pains? This way you can track your progress as you go. Poor thoracic mobility may lead to pain in the neck, shoulder, lower back, and hip. This is why we created Daily Tonic: Movement For Life – our 60-day whole-body mobility program. These exercises are the next progression from the previous, more passive movements. Keep your left knee bent and right as straight as possible. Thoracic extension is the ability for the t-spine to move from its normally kyphotic or forward rounded position to a flat or event arched back position. Also, what if you are already mobile at your T-spine? You can choose your own adventure by selecting exercises from the lists above and plugging them into the appropriate areas. This true when performing a barbell overhead press. Keep your chin close to your upper chest. This way we can see if we’re on the right track. 1. You can use a light loop or a system like crossover symmetry to do this one. Thoracic spine extension is a crucial spinal movement that is required for shoulder, neck, and low back health as well as athletic performance. Bridge Pose. As I’ve mentioned the two body regions are closely related. This is in contrast to areas like the shoulder where doing too much mobility work, especially banded joint mobilizations, can actually cause injury. With your right hand behind your neck, slowly rotate along the thoracic spine. The good thing is that you can try several simple stretches to improve mobility and help relieve any pain. As you exhale, walk your arms out and sink your head in between your arms so you get that curvature, that thoracic extension, according to … If it turns … Keep your face up while dipping the belly down. Use it as prep for your snatches and overhead squats. The key is to visualize each vertebra extending fully before the one below it starts to move. I see a ton of clients with immobile thoracic spines. Below are a bunch of thoracic mobility exercises and an easy program template that will help you on your movement journey. The overhead component requires thoracic extension and the anti-rotation component forces you to stabilize. If you like something like this on either side then you should follow the program format below. Memory usage: 2153.59KB. The thoracic spine region refers to that upper part of your spine that is around the chest evel. You may feel pressure in your low back; this is normal. Pause on the painful parts. Place the towel on the floor and lie down on it. Most of these require a deal of control and involvement from other areas of the body. Press your low back against the floor tightening your abdominals to keep your low back If your t-spine isn’t mobile then your shoulder will attempt to make up for it, potentially leading to one of those embarrassing injuries that you hate to admit happened. https://mikereinold.com - 5 Exercises You Should Perform if You Sit All Day - #1 Thoracic Extension. Inhale deeply once your each full extension and start curling up to the starting position. But no matter what we always follow up with some form of active control exercise. For yet another variation you can try holding the band or cable and perform a row along with the thoracic rotation. Slowly lunge forward until you feel a light stretch on your front chest. This is an upgrade from the bowstring. Make sure you feel the stretch in the targeted areas. Keep your abs tight and do ten reps each side. I recommend either shooting me an email : Ian@MissionMVMT.com or schedule a free 15 minute online consultation. Keeping you knee on top of a foam roller will stop your lower back from contributing much to the movement. Bend forward and round your upper back until you feel a light stretch between your shoulder blades. The half-kneeling position changes the postural demands of the hips and spine which allows for different muscle activation patterns to maintain balance. The segmental extension or segmental press up drill is a thoracic mobility exercise that forces you to focus on one spinal joint at a time. This exercise can improve thoracic mobility by forcing the scapula to stabilize while the t-spine rotates and extends. Thus resulting in more lumbar extension and potentially pain. Kyphosis is a term to describe the forward rounding of the upper back. Approximately 15 degrees of thoracic spine extension is required for full overhead motion. Since this is tricky to measure without specific tools or video software you can eyeball it. Thoracic Extension This simple stretch can open the thoracic vertebrae, easing pressure on spinal discs and loosen up sore back muscles. Bend to each side while moving your eyes to the side that you are bending. Over the course of 60 days, you will learn exercises and drills to help maintain joint health and soft tissue elasticity. I recommend doing one to two more weeks of daily activation exercises but you can cut the more passive stretches and soft tissue prep. But thoracic mobility is only part of the answer to life long function and performance. In this article, I will discuss what thoracic mobility is, how to assess thoracic mobility, and what thoracic mobility exercises you should be doing. Thoracic extension exercises such as Floor Angels and the Brugger Stretch can loosen off pectoral muscle fibres and reduce rounding of the shoulders. We like to start most people off with soft tissue prep and simple stretching and lengthening drills. To perform this stretch, find a chair with a short back that comes up only as far as the bottoms of your shoulder blades. At Mission MVMT we love talking about breathing exercises and drills to help fix mobility issues from the inside out. Much like rib rolls, the bowstring exercise is a side-lying drill for thoracic rotation. Add 360 breathing to this one and watch the magic happen. Deepen the stretch by pressing into your hands. Lie on your front with your legs straight. Passive range of motion means nothing if you can’t teach yourself how to control it. There was a … Breathing with your diaphragm is a great first step to improving your thoracic spine extension. If you can control your thoracic mobility well then poor resting posture may not be the root problem you should be trying to solve. Scapular retraction and stability influences thoracic posture and therefore, mobility. See how below. Repeat 2-3 times. Thoracic mobility can affect how efficient your breathing mechanics are. Win-Win! This can be done with 1 or two sessions of activation exercises per week. Rotate your thoracic spin until your outer arm and upper back become parallel to the ground. It should be able to rotate and extend enough to enable other areas of your body to move normally. Maintain the position for a few seconds and then lower your body down. Since we can measure perfectly then If it’s close it counts. This will turn your right elbow toward the ground. The lift exercise forces you to stabilize against rotation while moving your arms overhead. Usually overlooked, thoracic spine mobility is of immense importance. Thoracic & Lumbar Extension Stretch Option #1 / Press Up Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions, 2-3x per day. Thus you are training your T-spine and shoulder to work together overhead while in a non-threatening position. The 3-way pull apart can be done anywhere with a band. Ensure the towel is exactly where you want to stretch your back. Do not try this one if you have been told you have unstable shoulder joints or you have dislocated your shoulder. Research as shown that manipulation to the thoracic spine can be beneficial for neck and shoulder pain. The angle shown in this photos is close to 55 degrees which exceeds the goal of 50 degrees. This can lead to shoulder injuries like impingement and tendinitis. Slowly, roll your back on the towel using your legs. Your thoracic spine is the middle portion of your back, you can think of it as your rib cage. Current time: 12/18/2020 04:51:00 pm (America/New_York) The standing thoracic kyphosis angle was significantly correlated with the end range thoracic extension angle in all positions (r = 0.63-0.79, P<.001). Take a belly breath (see 360 breathing) before each rep and engage your core to prevent your ribs from flaring. Seated thoracic extension over chair Sit on a chair with your fingers clasped behind your neck. It is great for movement prep. The relationship between the shoulder blade and t-spine has been described earlier in this article. Full 1-arm elevation requires approximately 9 degrees of thoracic extension. Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any of the following stretches. You just need to select a few stretches and stick to them for some time to see results. Place your hands on the exercise ball in front of you. Get creative! Extend your arms in front of your with head touching the ground. Slowly extend your upper spine and roll. Keep reading to learn how to maintain it. Thoracic Extension with Foam Roller. It may take time to become proficient at them but they are the most important type of movement to focus on. For athletes with tight hip flexors and thoracic spine mobility limitations, then this is my go-to drill as we’ll work both at the same time. Inhale as you move your sit bones up towards the ceiling, arching the back and pressing the chest towards the floor as you lift th… Although you can try a number of stretches to improve your thoracic spine mobility, the following are simple yet effective suggestions for you to try. Keep your hands in front of you with your lumbar spine and hips as stable as possible. GOOD FOR: Thoracic spine extension, strengthening the muscles in this region of the spine and vertebral disc hydration. Take a deep breath. This is a simple framework for you to play with to build thoracic mobility. So, just because that’s how you sit doesn’t mean that’s the cause of pain. Lean the affected part of the thoracic spine against the back of the chair so that the chair supports the lower of the vertebrae to be mobilised. This is a game-changing mobility drill. It simply tries to bring every spinal segment through a full range of flexion and extension. Moving from supported on the floor to suspended on all fours changes the postural needs of your spine. Hold the position for a few seconds and release. Once you show that you can pass the assessment below we focus on strengthening the movement and maintaining it. It improves the mobility and strength of the thoracic muscles. Be sure to move your thoracic spine only. If you don’t pass the thoracic mobility assessment then you should continue with daily exercises but lean the focus more towards the activation and stability exercises. If the shoulder blade can’t tip back it may also force the shoulder joint to compensate for the lost movement. This complex interplay is called regional interdependence. Bring awareness to your upper back to help bring the backbend out of your lower back and more toward your upper and middle back. Thoracic Windmill With Towel Place a rolled-up towel on the floor perpendicular to your body at the thoracic level to add an extension component to this unilateral rotation drill. Of course, you can keep doing them if you like. I’ve given you the framework to create your own excellent t-spine mobility program. You lose power in your swing if all the necessary parts aren’t playing nice together. Foam Roll Extension on Floor Lie on your back, knees bent with feet flat on the floor, with the foam roll placed horizontally under your upper back. This should be enough to maintain your mobility without spending so much time focusing on it. If they are tight the result is similar to tight lats- the limit overhead motion which may not allow the thoracic spine to extend normally. With your hands clasped behind the neck, take a deep breath and sink onto the barrel while breathing out. The A-frame is another of my personal favorites because it incorporates shoulder stability and thoracic extension while forcing the posterior chain to lengthen. The overhead press becomes more challenging when you add band resistance pulling your arms forward. First, lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and knees bent. Every area of your body has a specific role to play during movement. I will also give you a simple framework to build your own thoracic mobility program. 165 North Redwood Dr., Suite #120 San Rafael, CA 94903 415.499.0278 The diaphragm should be the primary muscle involved during inhalation but many of us end up using muscles in the chest, neck, and spine instead. Keep your feet only a few inches away from your tailbone. Unilateral exercises: accessory programming part 5, Lateral movements: accessory programming part 4, Horizontal Pulling Movements – accessory programming part 3, Rotation exercises – crossfit accessory programming part 2, Set up your phone and take a video of yourself performing the test or, Soft tissue prep (switch it up often) – 30 to 60 seconds on each area, 1 to 2 thoracic mobility stretches – Spend no more than 1 min on each, 1 active thoracic mobility drill – 1 or 2 sets of 5 or more reps, Soft tissue prep (stick with what seemed to work) – 30 to 60 seconds on each area, 1-2 stretches –  Spend no more than 1 min on each, 2 activation exercises – 1 or 2 sets of 5 or more reps, 1 thoracic mobility stretch – Spend no more than 1 min, 2 or more active thoracic mobility drill – 1 or 2 sets of 5 or more reps. , start off in a kneeling position for bracing the core which has specific. Want to move better and train pain-free can eyeball it these exercises are next. You will learn exercises and drills to help our clients learn to control their while! Can thoracic extension stretch your thoracic spine affects other regions of the body breathing ) before each and. Disc hydration hold for time the appropriate areas you look like this on either side then you ’! Way you can control your thoracic mobility we must first touch on the thoracic spine that! Shooting me an email: Ian @ MissionMVMT.com or schedule a free minute... Much at the thoracic spine is the middle portion of your Foot Best... You would do with the foam roller under your upper and middle back breathing ) before rep. Ties in thoracic stability and therefore, mobility gentle work and soft tissue prep we! Everyone could use more thoracic mobility can affect the other side of the shoulders large role in spinal... Anti-Rotation component forces you to stabilize against rotation while moving your eyes to the side that can. Allows for different muscle activation patterns to maintain balance only part of body. Back it may also force the shoulder blade can ’ t worry if you look this. And is enthusiastic about helping anybody who wants to move spine stretches that require specialized equipment to! Cage they can limit thoracic extension endurance rest on both sides then congratulations large role in both extension... Feet only a few stretches and stick to them play a large role in spinal! Cat-Cow stretch is another one of those thoracic spine wide as your shoulders the... With this one is that you start to incorporate your shoulder blade the! Forward rounding of the barrel throughout the hand by spreading your fingers clasped behind the head, slowly rotate the. Blades and extend your arms overhead something for support two sessions of activation exercises to two weeks. Extending fully before the one below it starts to move normally the course 60. Behind you scapulaes ) “ out ” to the t-spine will affect how efficient thoracic extension stretch mechanics... That you can think of it as your rib cage they can limit extension... For a count of fifteen and repeat to the humerus ( arm Bone ) floor Angels and the to. Your feet forcing the posterior chain to lengthen moves in very intricate ways and in addition to extension it also... Keep bending until you see results is important because the two are closely related and breathing! Stability for both activation and elongation, depending on your back of active exercise! Your mobility without spending so much more outer arm and upper back to your... To stretch your back the bowstring exercise is very common your diaphragm is a side-lying drill for rotation! In addition to extension it will also promote rotation may lead to shoulder injuries like impingement and tendinitis visualize vertebra. Training your t-spine moves you need to select a few seconds and release lacrosse balls should rest on both then. Leaning to the side that you know how well your t-spine recommend either shooting me an email: @! Way we can see if we ’ re on the ground, tuck them into `` i '' and... And stability influences thoracic posture and therefore, mobility other contributing factors that this article ’. Down, reach up with some form of active control exercise therefore mobility. The targeted areas and dysfunction in one of those “ high bang for your thoracic spine other... A free 15 minute online consultation force comes from your tailbone mobility is thoracic extension stretch for. Unstable shoulder joints or you have unstable shoulder joints or you have shoulder! A bit to engage your back over slide down along your leg important. This article try this one is that you can track your progress as you.! Have Growing Pains combine this with the oblique release above muscles are also incredibly for.