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

By djpope

September 8, 2013

flexibility, foam roll, foam roller, mobility, shoulder mobility, thoracic extension, Thoracic spine

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