Start Mobilizing Your T-Spine the Right Way

By Dan Pope, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS

I want to go over something that seems simple but is also often done incorrectly—foam rolling your thoracic spine.

The point of rolling your thoracic spine is usually to get a bit more thoracic extension.  This helps improve your efficiency with overhead lifts.

If you want to bring your arm overhead you need 180 degrees of shoulder flexion.  But the shoulder joint alone can only achieve 165 degrees.  Thus to get that big weight overhead, you need the last 15 degrees that comes from the thoracic spine.

Not to mention, thoracic extension is a major player in shoulder health.  So it’s important to get this hammered down.

Most of the people I see rolling their spine, just go back and forth for several minutes.

While not harmful, it doesn’t provide the thoracic spine extension we’re shooting for.

The key is relaxing your spine over the roller in several different segments along the thoracic spine.  This will help provide mobility in the vertebral joints.

I made the following videos to improve your foam rolling and a few other mobility exercises to help 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 fitness programming for those who wish to minimize risk of injury and promote longevity.

Get after that Tyrannosaurus-spine,

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