Bellingham Athletic Club

Opening up your mid-back

Today’s lifestyle of computers, smartphones, driving, and television promotes poor posture, forward tilt to the head, forward rounding of the shoulders, and rounding of the upper back. Being in this posture can affect the ability of the thoracic spine to move, which can lead to a malady of compensations down the road. Neck, shoulder, and lower back are just a few of the aches and pains that can come from an immobile thoracic spine.

The side-lying torso rotation stretch is a great exercise to open up the thoracic spine while protecting the lower back. To perform the stretch you need a foam roller and some sort of pillow or head support. Begin by lying on one side, make sure your shoulders are stacked on top of each other and are aligned with your head and hips. Place your top leg on top of the foam roller with your thigh flexed to 90 degrees. Your bottom knee should be flexed to 90 degrees and your bottom thigh should be in line with the rest of your body. Extend your top arm up into the air and you are ready to begin.

Take a deep breath through your nose and then exhale through your mouth, while you gently rotate your head and look over your shoulder. While turning your head your arm begins to reach back toward the floor. Remember your head begins the motion, not your arm. As you rotate, make sure your top leg stays in contact with the foam roller. This protects the lumbar spine. Continue to exhale through the entire stretch and go to the tension, not through it. The movement should take you approximately 4 seconds back into the stretch, hold for 2 seconds and then 3 seconds back to the start. Repeat for 4-6 repetitions. With each rotation, you should feel like you get a little deeper into the stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.

Try adding it to your flexibility routine and see how much difference it makes. It is an exercise we can
do every day!

Mike Locke
Fitness Directo