The thoracic spine region refers to that upper part of your spine that is around the chest evel. Usually overlooked, thoracic spine mobility is of immense importance. Poor thoracic mobility may lead to pain in the neck, shoulder, lower back, and hip. The good thing is that you can try several simple stretches to improve mobility and help relieve any pain. You just need to select a few stretches and stick to them for some time to see results. Some of these stretches can also help improve your posture, breathing, and digestion. Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any of the following stretches.
Thoracic Spine Stretches
Although you can try a number of stretches to improve your thoracic spine mobility, the following are simple yet effective suggestions for you to try. These stretchesare generally safe, but it still makes sense to talk to your doctor before trying these, especially if you have serious spinal issues.
1. Cat-Cow Movements
- Get on all fours keeping your wrists under your shoulders and knees right under your hips.
- Distribute your body weight evenly throughout the hand by spreading your fingers.
- Move your pelvis upward while inhaling. Keep your face up while dipping the belly down.
- Exhale slowly while arching your back like a cat. Tuck the pelvic and round your spine while letting your head hang loose.
- Repeat 5-7 times.
2. Cobra Pose
- Lie on your stomach with your chin on the mat and your hands underneath your shoulders.
- Inhale slowly while curling your chest off the ground by using your back muscles. It is okay to life your hands up a bit to engage your back.
- Deepen the stretch by pressing into your hands. Ensure that 95% of the force comes from your back.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and release.
- Repeat a couple of times.
3. Bridge Pose
- Bridge pose is another one of effective thoracic spine stretches. First, lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and knees bent. Keep your feet only a few inches away from your tailbone.
- While pressing your shoulders into the ground, tuck them into your back to let your chest puff out a bit.
- Lift your hips toward the ceiling while pressing into your feet.
- Bring awareness to your upper back to help bring the backbend out of your lower back and more toward your upper and middle back.
- Maintain the position for a few seconds and then lower your body down.
- Repeat thrice.
4. Foam Roller Thoracic Extension
- Start with your knees up and glutes on the floor. Keep your feet on the ground and place a foam roller right underneath your thoracic spine.
- While putting your hands behind the head, slowly pull your elbows close together. Allow your head to drop to the ground.
- Slowly extend your upper spine and roll. Pause on the painful parts.
- Continue rolling for some time.
5. Tennis Ball Thoracic Extension
- Tape two balls together and place them below your rib cage after getting in the thoracic evaluation position.
- Wrap your body around the balls like you would do with the foam roller.
- Extend your arms in front of your with head touching the ground.
- Keep your lumbar spine stable and do 4-5 sit-ups. Be sure to move your thoracic spine only.
- After a set of five, move the balls up the spine and perform another set. Continue until you pass your shoulder blades.
6. Side Lying Rotations
- Side lying rotation is one of the thoracic spine stretches. First, lie on your right side with a pillow underneath your other knee.
- Keep your left knee bent and right as straight as possible. Keep your hands in front of you with your lumbar spine and hips as stable as possible.
- Rotate your thoracic spin until your outer arm and upper back become parallel to the ground. Tighten your abs to avoid rotating your lumbar spine.
- Perform 10 rotations on each side.
7. Quadruped Rotations
- Start by getting on your knees and hands.
- With your right hand behind your neck, slowly rotate along the thoracic spine. This will turn your right elbow toward the ground.
- Tighten up your lower back and sit back slightly into your hips to ensure they do not rotate.
- Keep your abs tight and do ten reps each side.
8. Side Stretch
- Reach over and slowly bend to your side.
- Keep bending until you feel a light stretch on the side of your body.
- Repeat the same on the other side of your body.
9. Front Stretch
- Extend your hand and place it on a doorframe.
- Slowly lunge forward until you feel a light stretch on your front chest.
- Repeat the same on the other side.
- Posterior Line Stretch
- Start sitting down slowly and pull your head down. Keep your chin close to your upper chest.
- Bend forward and round your upper back until you feel a light stretch between your shoulder blades.
10. Wall Angel
- Stand close to a wall.
- With your back toward the wall, pull your arms backwards while maintaining contact with the wall.
- Start with your arms in the "W" position and slowly turn them into "I" position.
- Repeat 10 times.
11. Towel Roll
- Get a towel and roll it up into a wound cylinder.
- Place the towel on the floor and lie down on it. Ensure the towel is exactly where you want to stretch your back.
- Take a deep breath. Slowly, roll your back on the towel using your legs. Exhale slowly.
12. The Barrel
It is one of those thoracic spine stretches that require specialized equipment. You will need the barrel for this stretch.
- Start by sitting in front of the barrel – ensure your lower back has something for support.
- With your hands clasped behind the neck, take a deep breath and sink onto the barrel while breathing out. Do not push your head forward.
- Sink onto the barrel and extend your upper spine backwards. Keep your lower spine in contact with the barrel throughout the movement.
- Inhale deeply once your each full extension and start curling up to the starting position.
- Do 10 reps.
Here is one interesting video to help you learn more about how to perform different stretches of thoracic spine: