Back to Back Issues Page
Hello Welcome to In the Moment with Thoracic Mobility on a Foam Roller!
September 27, 2013

In the Moment with Thoracic Mobility on Your Foam Roller!
Issue #035 - September 27, 2013

If you are not familiar with the concept of foam rolling, never fear. It is very easy to learn and oh-so beneficial to your body. Like yoga, if done in a mindful fashion, it can do wonders for your body-mind connection. Click on the above foam rolling link, to quickly learn more about the body-mind-soul benefits to this activity.

Foam rolling utilizes a technique called self-myofascial release. Myofascial release is the way to use your muscles to find your deeply held tensions, and stress knots, and place pressure on it for a deep release. It works the connective tissue of the muscles, called fascia, to more or less "iron" them out for muscle health.

If you do not own a foam roller yet, you may purchase one by clicking here. There is nothing quite like foam rolling, that you can do for yourself that digs deeply into your muscles, for opening and deep releasing.

When you begin foam rolling, you will quickly learn where your body is stuck. Your everyday stresses and tensions are held in the body, and it is only when you mindfully become aware of these tensions that you can release them.

The upper back, shoulders and neck are a common area where we hold our stress. I have a whole library of information and videos regarding the significance of our backs and shoulders bearing our burdens in life. My articles give you more information on foam rolling the trapezius, shoulders (for opening) and more detail for the upper back (thoracic spine).

Learning how to open your shoulders and upper back through these thoracic mobility exercises I offer here will help you avoid the common "humpback" that you see in so many people as they age. The universal tendency is to slump forward in our chairs as we work, the neck juts forward as you round your back, as all the muscles of the upper thoracic area weaken. This is a set up for future spine problems, shoulder problems, neck problems and breathing problems.

If you are conscious about your posture and do these upper back foam roller exercises, you will reap great rewards in your posture and your health! In addition, you will find that as your muscles and spine release, your emotions release as well. Therefore, your emotional state improves too! A real body-mind-soul activity!

Let's begin by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place your foam roller on the floor so that when you lie down, the roller will be on the middle of your upper back by the shoulder blades. You will need to use a 36 inch long roller for these exercises to work.

Thoracic Spine Foam Rolling Starting Position

Starting Position for Thoracic Spine Foam Rolling

Lie back on the foam roller as shown in the start position. Place your hands behind your head and lift your hips off the ground. Begin rolling slowly up and down the mid-back area. Use your feet to push off. Your feet also will keep you grounded and balanced. If it is too hard to put your hands behind your head, try placing them on your belly, or on the ground next to you.

Remember to breathe as you roll. Never hold your breath! Your back may crack, and that is OK. Do this as long as you wish. It should feel really good as you loosen and warm up your back.

Next, try rooting your feet, with your hips still up and the roller at your shoulder blade level, and lean back so that your head and arms are
Thoracic Spine Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling the Thoracic Spine

lower than the foam roller. Do a mini-sit-up and then lean back again. Don't make the movement too big, just small forward and back motions. Even the smallest of movements here will open up your thoracic spine. Plus, you may feel the opening in the front chest area as well. Experiment with doing these mini sit-ups from different areas of your back. Roll down the foam roller an inch or so and do the mini sit-up again. Then roll up a few inches and repeat. Do each position several times. Inhale as you roll up, exhale as you release back.

Now try the same mini sit-up exercise as above, but this time, lower your hips to the ground. While the hips provide more stability, the back bend is deeper, getting into the upper spine much more deeply.

Thoracic mobility starting with hands behind the head.

Thoracic Mobility Starting Position

Thoracic Mobility, leaning back.

Deeper Back Bend with Hands Behind Head.

You can experiment in this position like before, from a lower or higher point on your spine. Don't forget to keep breathing, sinking into the foam roller and releasing. As you inhale, elongate your spine. As you exhale, sink a little farther if you can.

As a final movement in this position, try extending your arms over your head as shown. Keep inhaling and elongating, exhaling and extending and releasing. Hold this for as long as you wish, but try to do it for at least 3-5 breaths. The longer you hold, the more releasing can be accomplished.

If you wish, you can slide your legs farther out, or even straighten them. There is really no "perfect" way to do this exercise. Just follow your own body's intuition.

Back Bend on the foam roller with arms over the head.

Back Bending on the Foam Roller with Arms over the Head.

From the arms over the head position, sit up just a bit and lower the one arm by your side as you keep the other over your head. A mild twisting motion at the upper back is required to make this movement. This frees up even more space in your thoracic spine as you add the twist. Hold this here for 3-5 deep breaths.

Make sure you do both sides equally for balancing your body!

Thoracic Mobility on foam roller with a one-arm twist.

Back Bend with a One-Arm Twist

For the final spinal mobility movement, go back to the starting position with your hands behind your head, hips down on the floor. Take a long inhale. As you exhale

Thoracic mobility, hands behind head and twist.

Thoracic Mobility, Hands Behind Head with a Twist

lift your left shoulder and twist toward the right, keeping your right shoulder blade firmly rooted in the foam roller. Hold this position for 3-5 breaths.

Repeat on the other side. Do several repetitions to loosen your thoracic spine even more!

An added benefit to these exercises, is that it works your core, opens your chest, and requires balance to perform, all in addition to opening your thoracic spine! What a wonderful combination of body-mind-soul activity.

As you do these foam roller exercises, allow your worries and hurts to just roll off your back! You may wish to say affirmations, for releasing your burdens, such as:

  • I release my burdens and I feel free!
  • My troubles roll off my back!
  • God/the Universe support me in all things!
  • My back supports me always in everything I do!
  • I release my financial worries!
  • I release my emotional and physical worries!
  • I feel strong, straight and tall!

Feel free to create your own affirmations that have meaning for you, as your heart is opened with these exercises. Make them meaningful to you! You may also wish to explore your 4th Chakra energy, that energy center that is involved with this part of the body.

Join me, in purchasing your foam roller today and roll away your bad posture! I recommend the premium Life Fitness model, especially if you are a beginner to foam rolling. It has more cushion and comfort!

May you always breathe and release as you roll away your tensions and hurts, on your foam roller!

Body Moments Back Issues

For access to all back issues, and more Body Moments meditations, please click on the link, Body Moments, Back Issues.

Back to Back Issues Page