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Thoracic Mobility Routine


This is part of the Joint-by-joint approach to human movement. Click here to learn more about this.

Typical Exercise Disclaimer

If you have been told your thoracic mobility is a challenge, here is a basic mobility routine that could help. The usual caveat applies: Make sure you run this routine by your health or fitness professional to decide whether it is appropriate in your specific situation. Also, if you are experiencing pain, stop doing the routine and consult your health or fitness professional to see what might be wrong (insert common sense here!)

Test your Thoracic Mobility

Seated Rotation

You should be able to rotate 45 degrees to each side.

Here is how you do the seated thoracic rotation test. Make sure you compare how far you can rotate when the dowel is on your shoulders versus behind your back. The dowel-behind-the-back position shows true thoracic mobility because it takes your shoulder mobility out of the equation.



Seated thoracic rotation test

Wall Angel

Here is Dr. Vince DiSaia of Momentum Sports demonstrating the wall angel. The nice thing about this test is that it can also act as an exercise. The key is to ensure your back, head, arms, forearms, wrists and back of the hands remain in contact with the wall at all times. Also, NO PAIN! Particularly watch for impingement pain in the shoulders.

Thoracic mobility routine

Level One

Foam roller

Foam roller chest stretch

Foam roller back stretch

Foam roller t:s mobility

Cat Camel

Get on all fours and slowly cycle your back from:

  • Full Flexion: Bring your chin towards your chest while rounding your mid-back and low back towards the ceiling. Also, don’t forget to do a pelvic tilt (tuck your tail)
  • Full Extension: drop your chest and belly towards the floor while extending your neck to look up towards the ceiling

The entire range of motion should be pain-free. If you have discomfort towards the end-range, stop before entering the pain point and learn to cycle back and forth within a pain-free range of motion.


Bench Thoracic mobility

  • Kneel on the floor facing a chair or bench and place your elbows on the chair/bench holding a stick in your hands (supinated grip).
  • Ensure your knees are under your hips (thighs vertical). Your elbows should be in front of your head.

Bench T-S mob start

  • The exercise:
    • Keep your hips, back and neck/head in a straight line
    • Rock your hips back so you sit back on your heels while you flex your elbows bringing the stick above your head.
    • Keep your elbows on the bench
    • Feel the stretch in your mid back, shoulders and triceps
  • Common errors to avoid:
    • Flexing too much in the shoulders and feeling a pinch on the top of the shoulders
    • Hips don’t rock back far enough (Buttocks to heels)
    • Too much arching in the low back

Bench T-S mob finish

  • Hold the end position to 2-3 seconds and repeat 12 times

T4 rotation

  • Start on all fours
  • Place one hand behind your neck
  • Begin looking at the ground with your elbow pointing towards the ground
  • Turn to look up and point elbow towards ceiling
  • Perform 10-15 times, each side

Thoracic mobility exercise

This routine is meant as an entry level thoracic mobility routine. Once it feels easy, you need to progress. Feel free to contact us using this form to learn some exercise progressions to keep you moving forward.

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