How to Unlock Your Thoracic Spine

We more commonly think of our neck and lower back when we think of our spine, but our thoracic spine, or mid-back region, is important as well. Having adequate mobility in the mid-back is important to our daily function, from turning around to back out of the driveway to reaching overhead into cabinets.

Lacking thoracic mobility can cause issues up at the neck or down at the low back. When we have decreased mobility at the thoracic region, our cervical (neck) or lumbar (spine) regions will often compensate to make up for that lack of motion, which can lead to pain and injury. Individuals who sit at a desk or are more sedentary are more prone to having stiffness and decreased mobility at the thoracic spine.

Here’s a quick assessment for how to assess if you have adequate thoracic mobility. You’ll need a dowel, broomstick, PVC pipe, or something similar.

Hold the dowel at your shoulders and sit down.

Place markers at 45-degree angles (at home, you can tape down an “X” or place two yard sticks perpendicular to each other)

The dowel should meet or pass the markers as you rotate to both sides. If you can’t rotate at least 45 degrees, you’re lacking some mobility at your thoracic spine. Rotate to your right, then rotate to your left

Here are a few exercises for increasing the mobility of your thoracic spine:

Kneeling Thoracic Extension 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Open Books 2-3 sets of 10 reps, each side
Half kneeling thoracic rotation  2-3 sets of 10 reps, each side

Feeling stiff in the mid-back? Have questions? We can help!

Give us a call at 619.260.0750