Thoracic spine rotation is one of the biggest limitations that people face in everyday life. Being able to rotate to the side with just your upper torso is critical for daily function and for sports such as golf and baseball. In this article, we’re going to go over the top three exercises to improve your ability to rotate through your thoracic spine. For all the exercises in this article, all you’ll need is a foam roller or two lacrosse balls. It’s recommended to do these exercises in this order for maximum effectiveness.
For the first exercise, we’ll be working to improve the ability of your thoracic spine to extend. Place the foam roller on the ground and sit down with the foam roller behind you. Lean back onto the foam roller, placing it below the base of your ribs, and then roll it up and down between there and your shoulder blades, bearing weight down on it. At times, it can help to pause and try to extend your back out with the foam roller still in place. You can also take the two lacrosse balls and connect them together, either with tape or by putting them in a sock or by any other means – they just need to be able to roll back and forth and be just barely touching. Set up much like with the foam roller, with the lacrosse balls in place of the foam roller, one ball on either side of your spine, but instead of extending your spine out, do a small crunch inward, keeping contact with the balls at all times. Using the lacrosse balls, the goal is to work each segment of the spine so make sure to be thorough.
The second exercise is called a thoracic spine opener. Lay on your side with your arms out in front of you, hands together. Rotate your top arm all the way around your head, keeping it in contact with the floor at all times and trying to get your top shoulder to touch to the floor as your arm reaches behind you. It’s more important to make sure your shoulder touches the ground than to make sure your fingers touch the ground at all times. Continue to rotate your arm through an entire circle back to its original position. Try to make sure you’re breathing out through the first half of the circle. If your top leg starts to rotate upwards, try to use your bottom arm to hold it down.
The final exercise is done on the ground on all fours. Shift your weight back towards your heels. Put a hand behind your head, then rotate that elbow down underneath your torso. Then, rotate it back out and up over your torso. Repeat this a number of times on each side.
Let us know how these help you out and if you are seeing results!