The Correct Way to Mobilize Your Thoracic Spine with a Foam Roller

I wanted to go over something that seems fairly simple but is also done incorrectly frequently.  This is foam rolling your thoracic spine. The point of rolling your thoracic...

thoracic spineI wanted to go over something that seems fairly simple but is also done incorrectly frequently.  This is foam rolling your thoracic spine.

The point of rolling your thoracic spine is usually to get a bit more thoracic extension and help improve your efficiency with overhead lifts.  Remember that your shoulder joint only really achieves 165 degrees of overhead flexion and in order to get that big weight overhead we need to get that last 15 degrees from our thoracic spine.  Thoracic spine extension is also a major player in shoulder health so we better get this hammered down.

Most people I see rolling their spine tend to just go back and forth for several minutes over their spine.  While this is all well and good, I don’t think we actually ever get the effect we’re shooting for, and that is thoracic spine extension.

The main objective of foam rolling is to relax the spine over the roller so we get some mobility in the vertebral joints of the thoracic spine.

If we’re just rolling forward and back, we’re never actually getting any mobility in our thoracic spines.    The key is relaxing your spine over the roller in several different segments along the thoracic spine.

I made a video to show you just how to get the job done.

Some more of my favorite t-spine mobility drills

Lastly, I’d follow these drills up with some T-spine stability and shoulder motor control and then hammer away on your technique!

Remember that there is more to injury prevention and longevity then having a mobile thoracic spine.   I spend copious amounts of time creating competitive crossfit programming for those who wish to minimize risk of injury and promote longevity.  Learn more about the program by clicking HERE:

Want to learn more great thoracic spine mobility exercise as well as how to assess when the thoracic spine needs to be addressed?  Check out my product with Dr. Dave Tilley:

Monkey Method – Movement Essentials

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Fixing Technical Flaws in the Handstand, Muscle-up and Olympic Lifts

Get after that Tyrannosaurus-spine,

Dr. Dan Pope DPT, CSCS

Categories
corrective exerciseExercise DemonstrationShoulderThoracic Spinevideos
14 Comments on this post.
  • James Valencia
    11 September 2013 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    Thank you Mike for sharing your knowledge, these really help.

    • djpope
      15 September 2013 at 10:26
      Leave a Reply

      Hey James, thanks for the kind words, my name is Dan though!

  • Therapy Reads 9/7 – 9/13/13 | ActivePTblog
    13 September 2013 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    […] The Correct Way to Mobilize Your Spine by Dan Pope […]

  • Derby City CrossFit | DarkSide Strength | Louisville Monday 9/16/13 – Treat Yourself
    15 September 2013 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    […] On Eating Roadkill: The Most Ethical Meat Dear CrossFit: Talayna Deserves Better The Best CrossFit Someecards Wrestling, With Revamped Rules, Returns to Summer Games The Correct Way to Mobilize Your Thoracic Spine with a Foam Roller […]

  • Mobility Monday : Thoracic Spine | Cache Valley Strength & Conditioning
    15 October 2013 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    […] his post “The Correct Way to Mobilize your Thoracic Spine with a Foam Roller” he covers the importance of good spine mobility & a few videos demonstrating how best […]

  • The Best Mobility and Stability Exercises to Improve the Front Rack: Part 1 – Addressing the Thoracic Spine | FITNESS PAIN FREE
    9 December 2013 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    […] spine mobility and stability.  I usually like to start off with a bit of foam rolling.  Click HERE for my videos of how to foam roll properly.  You can also find a long list of my favorite thoracic […]

  • Ben
    22 May 2014 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    Hi
    Thanks for the post.
    When I do the first mobility exercise (elbows on a platform gripping a bar) I feel a strong tightness in the outside of my shoulders as I stretch, this limits how far I can stretch and as I stretch I feel a huge pressure of the outside of my shoulders. What is this a sign of? Is it poor shoulder mobility, what exercises addresses this symptoms?

    • djpope
      26 May 2014 at 10:26
      Leave a Reply

      It sounds like a stretch, is it painful? This may be a good stretch for you.

  • Ben
    26 May 2014 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    It is not painful, it is just limits the range of movement so that my arms are not in line with my body, maybe my shoulders are just tight. Thanks for your help.

  • The Correct Way to Mobilize Your Thoracic Spinewith a Foam Roller | Crossover Symmetry CrossoverSymmetry.com
    2 July 2014 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    […] article was written by Dan Pope from Fitness Pain Free. Click here  to view more articles from Dan […]

  • Bill
    21 June 2015 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    Dr. Pope

    Nice job on the website. I see that you are using some of my artwork (the shoulder/thoracic spine mobility artwork). Could you cite the source under the image?

    Thank you

    Bill

    • djpope
      28 September 2015 at 10:26
      Leave a Reply

      Of course! I try and cite each image from where it came from. Where would you like me to cite it? Back to your name?

  • Ray
    22 July 2015 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    Are crunches on a foam roller really safe? I’ve read from many sources that crunches are general risky and should be avoided — what’s your opinion on that and doing them on a foam roller?

    • djpope
      28 September 2015 at 10:26
      Leave a Reply

      I think the controversy is repeated spinal flexion for a lot of reps. Thoracic spine “crunches” are a few reps mostly for mobilization.

    Leave a Reply

    *

    *

    RELATED BY