Thoracic Rotation Exercise for Stiff, Sore Backs

Try out this exercise any time your back is feeling stiff. If will help you get more rotation in the thoracic spine. Extension is also important, but this video focuses on rotation specifically. If you don’t have a foam roller, you can substitute a large pillow or other support under your ankle and knee. Keep your knee touching the support the whole time. If this feels too easy, bring your knee up closer to your chest.

Step 1 “The Reach”: Lie on your left side with your bottom leg straight. Support your right ankle and knee on a foam roller, so that your knee and hip are both at 90 degree angles.

Step 2 “The Wiggle”: Wiggle your left shoulder blade up and around towards the ceiling. It helps to grab your left wrist with your opposite hand in order to pull your left arm up. This creates the necessary tension to give you the starting position. This will feel way too easy if you skip this step. Keep your left hand pressing up towards the ceiling the entire time, like you’re balancing a heavy plate.

Step 3 “The Twist”: Inhale as you twist your torso to your right (towards the floor). Exhale to bring it back to the start. Your right arm guides this motion, but we’re not concerned with how flexible your shoulder joint is, rather how much rotation you can feel through your torso.

If you don’t feel anything while doing this exercise, rotate your top hip forward just a bit, raise your top knee up towards your head, and really keep that top knee pinned down into the roller as you open your right arm and your torso to the side. You should feel a generalized stretch/opening across the chest and throughout the back. Depending on where you hold your tension, you may feel this exercise in different places than someone else.

Repeat for 10-15 reps and then switch to the other side.

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