4 Exercises to Maximize your Mid-Back Mobility!
By: Julia Towers, Physiotherapist
Do you sit at a desk all day for work? Feeling stiff or sore in your back? Extended periods of sitting can contribute to stiffness in your thoracic spine (aka. the mid-back). Considering that many lifestyles today require us to be increasingly sedentary, I would like to give you a few tips for counteracting the resulting immobility that may occur.
What is the Thoracic Spine?
The thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae – the largest area when compared to your neck and lower-back. It is able to move in all planes of motion, although it is primarily responsible for rotation. It also helps to facilitate movement of the arms with its relationship to the shoulder blade, provides a stable base for the neck, and is paired with the ribs to influence breathing. It is such an important area that is often forgotten!
4 Exercises to Improve Thoracic Mobility
Build these into your daily routine to reduce and/or prevent stiffness. These are also great exercises to add into your breaks during the workday.
1. Extension Over a Foam Roller 
- Place a foam roller (or towel) at the level of your mid-back on the floor, starting at the top of your shoulder blades
- Support your neck with your hands as you lean back, extending over the roller
- Continue to move the roller down about an inch in order to target different segments of the mid-back
- Repeat the exercise for 5 repetitions
2. Cat-Cow Stretch 
- Start on your hands and knees (shoulders directly over your hands, hips directly over your knees)
- COW: Inhale as you drop your belly button towards the floor, curving (or extending) your back
- CAT: Exhale as you push your back upwards towards the ceiling, rounding (or flexing) your back
- Alternate between these positions in a slow and controlled fashion for 15 repetitions
3. Open Book 
- Lie on your side with your top knee bent and arms out long in front of you
- Draw a large arc with your top arm as you bring it out to the opposite side
- Think about this movement coming from your mid-back as you try to touch your shoulder blade to the floor behind you
4. Wall Angels 
- Stand against a wall with your feet away from the baseboard and a soft bend in your knees
- Raise your arms with palms out to make contact with the wall
- Your shoulders and head should also touch the wall
- Slide your arms up as far as you can without allowing any body parts to come off the wall, then slide back down
- Repeat this exercise for 15 repetitions
*With any of these exercises, go as far as you are able to without pushing through pain. Over time and with practice you will find that you are able to go further. *
Manual Physiotherapy treatment can also help to alleviate stiffness and pain in the back. Feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions on the subject or you can book an appointment online by clicking here.
- Physitrack (2012). Thoracic Mobility. https://ca.physitrack.com/exercises
- Thoracic extension stretch, over roller, hands behind neck, supine. https://ca.physitrack.com/exercises
- Cat and Camel. https://ca.physitrack.com/exercises
- Trunk Rotation Stretch, Leading with arm, Side lying. https://ca.physitrack.com/exercises
- Wall Angels Scapular Stabilization, standing. https://ca.physitrack.com/exercises