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

thoracic spine The Correct Way to Mobilize Your Thoracic Spine with a Foam RollerI 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!
Get after that Tyrannosaurus-spine,
Contributed by Dr. Dan Pope


  1. I also like to use the 1/2 foam roller with my patients and align it with the spine vertically vs. perpendicular. You can then use the end of the roller as the pivot point. I have also found it helpful because they get feedback to the lumbar spine if they are extending too much through the lumbar spine and not through the thoracic spine.

  2. I like to do similar (parallel to spine) but have the fulcrum be around upper thoracic while they are performing cervical retraction. Mobilizes upper thoracic into extension nicely.


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