You probably don’t pay too much attention to your upper back, but it’s an area that is more important than you think. Use this yoga routine to release your thoracic spine and increase your upper back mobility!
When you increase your upper back mobility, you’ll feel it immediately. This area is responsible for helping us achieve simple day-to-day movements like twisting, bending forward and backward, and bending side-to-side.
With the increase in desk jobs in recent years, it’s not surprising that more people are finding themselves lacking mobility in their thoracic spine. As a result, many of us regularly experience stiffness, immobility, poor posture, and back pain. (1)
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Start using these specific exercises to increase your upper back mobility; helping you to regain movement and functionality in work, exercise, and the rest of your life. Grab a foam roller, a lightweight exercise band, and a yoga mat, and practice the following routine first thing in the morning every day. You should notice a significant difference in your thoracic mobility and overall posture over time.
Horizontal Foam Roll | 1 min
Use a medium to firm foam roller here to release knots and tension in your upper back.
- Place a foam roller horizontally across your mat and sit in front of it. Use your hands to lower your back down onto it, keeping your hips on the ground. The roller should rest under the bottom of your ribs.
- Bend your elbows and interlace your fingers behind your head, bringing your elbows out wide. Lean your head gently back into your palms to feel a stretch across your chest and shoulders.
- Press into your feet to lift your hips up slightly, and slowly roll the foam roller up towards your shoulders. Whenever you feel a tight spot, stop and hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Once you get right below the shoulders, roll back down towards the lower ribs.
- Continue rolling up and down for at least a minute.
Cat-Cow | 8 breaths
Warm up the muscles around the spine with this simple yoga sequence.
- Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Engage your abs.
- Inhale to tilt your tailbone up towards the sky as you lower your belly and press your chest forward, coming into cow pose.
- Then, exhale to tilt your tailbone down, round your upper back, and bring your chin towards your chest to come into cat pose.
- Continue moving between cow and cat poses for 8 breaths.
Table Top Twists | 8 reps per side
This easy exercise improves the rotation of your thoracic spine to increase upper back mobility.
- Continue in a tabletop position but lower down to your forearms, bringing them parallel to one another.
- Place your right hand behind your head. Then inhale to twist to the right, pointing the elbow towards the sky. Twist as far as you can to feel a stretch through the thoracic spine.
- Exhale to twist the elbow underneath you, tapping your left arm.
- Repeat for 8 reps, then switch arms.
Pull-Apart | 15 reps
Use an exercise band here to strengthen the upper back and shoulders.
- Find a comfortable seated or standing position. Hold a lightweight band in both hands.
- Straighten your arms out in front of you so that your hands are in line with your shoulders.
- Exhale to pull the band apart with your hands as far as you can. Then, inhale to slowly bring the hands back towards each other until they are a shoulder-width distance apart.
- Repeat for 15 reps.
Thoracic Bridge | 10 reps
Finish with the ultimate mobility exercise: the thoracic bridge! You’ll stretch your upper back while improving your thoracic spine’s ability to rotate.
- Sit on your mat with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your hands down on the floor behind you with your fingers pointing backward.
- Press into your feet to lift your hips up towards the sky. Lift your left arm up and reach across your body with your palm facing down. You should feel a stretch inside of your left shoulder blade.
- Slowly lower your hips back down towards the ground and switch sides.
- Continue alternating side to side for 10 reps total.
Ready for more mobility exercises? Put your shoulders to the test with this quick shoulder mobility screen, then try these one-minute mobility hacks for 10 different types of pain!
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