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How To Increase Movement In Your Upper and Mid Back

“Just roll out your back on the foam roller.”

This is common advice given to people suffering from back pain.  While simply rolling out your back is good and will probably provide some temporary relief, you are likely missing out on the full benefits of using a foam roller to mobilize your thoracic spine (mid back).

Why is it important to mobilize the thoracic spine?

We live in a society that likes to sit for most of our daily activities. Prolonged sitting can ultimately lead to many negative effects (read more on those HERE). Muscles start to shut down from being stretched and shortened resulting in poor posture that can ultimately effect our entire body. A sign of poor posture is increased kyphosis, or a “hunched” back. That looks like this:

Thoracic Spine

Notice the curvature in the thoracic spine of each of the models. Increased curvature in the spine will cause more muscular insufficiencies and throw the entire body off balance. Mobilizing the thoracic spine into extension will reduce the curvature of the spine in order to improve posture, improve spinal alignment, and place muscles at the right length to work. Here’s how to do it correctly.

Mobilizing the Thoracic Spine Using a Foam Roller

  • Lie perpendicular on the foam roller with the foam roller at midback.
  • Knees should be bent and your butt should be on the ground.
  • Interlock your hand behind your neck and place forearms under jaw.
  • Next, extend at your thoracic spine using the point of contact with the foam roller as a pivot point.
  • Hang out in this position for 30 seconds and move up and down the thoracic spine to find areas that may feel stiff.

Doing this mobilization will help you get into a better posture, improve spinal health, and place muscles in the right length to activate.

thoracic spine

thoracic spine 2

John Kim

John enjoys working with the orthopedic and sports population across all age ranges and prefers a whole body, hands-on manual approach using innovative techniques. He is certified in dry needling, has taken coursework in the Mulligan Concept, and has taken coursework in Bloodflow Restriction Rehab.

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