• Upper Back Mobility (part I)

    Hope everyone’s day is going well.   Today’s topic will cover upper back mobility, but before we get going, let’s kick it with some classic tunage you can jam to while reading this…Dire Straits style:

    Alrighty then. So, for those who are in tune with the functional training/strength training/mobility training world, the concept of upper back mobility is certainly a big time player when it comes to movement impairments in certain individuals. In fact, many individuals who experience back, neck, and shoulder pain also exhibit upper back mobility deficits in either the sagittal (flexion, extension ability of the back), frontal (lateral flexion either side), and/or transverse (rotational capacity of the spine) plane motions that the thoracic spine has potential for movement.


    Here are a few examples of traditional upper back mobilization exercises exhibited by some of the industry’s leading strength coaches, Eric Cressey, Gray Cook, and Mike Boyle:

    Here is a more integrated version involving the hips and lower body as well… a bit more complex, but I think Gray does a great job breaking it down:

    The “Bretzel”

    Mike Boyle’s version of extension/rotation out of the Thoracic Spine:

    Here’s another one by Boyle, this time using an external object in the form of two tennis balls taped together to use as a fulcrum to get more specific and local with it:

    All great ways of illiciting additional thoracic spine mobility, each unique in execution. When you’re doing these exercises on your own, think about the following things:

    – a stretch, or “mobilization” should never be painful. Slight discomfort is normal, but if you find yourself forcing or “muscling” through a stretch, you need to have yourself a piece of humble pie and just chill in the stretch… you’ll loosen up if you work with your body… breeeeeaaath….

    – For most of these, (except for the bretzel, which is more of a contract/relax type stretch) something along the lines of 2 sets of 8-10 reps, or “mobs”, if you will, will do the trick… the idea is to be patient… mobility does not come immediately… for some individuals, such as myself, it can take up to 4-6 weeks of consistent, dedicated work at least 5 times a week, practicing a few times a day in order to experience real changes.

    – Did I mention to breath and relax? It’s kind of important…

    – How about to be patient? Also very important…

    Let me know if you try these and how your journey goes!


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