By: Dr. Autumn Neuharth

Thoracic spine = middle back. Needs to be nice and “open/extended” for a solid front squat and literally every overhead movement. Also thoracic spine extension is a beautiful antidote to our computer-oriented postures (not unlike the slump I’m doing right now as I’m typing this). Time to take a break and foam roll! But wait – opening up your middle back requires some thoughtful movement. Laying over a foam roll with everything else loosey-goosey is going to do nothing to mobilize a stiff middle back.
Check out the top picture. My lower back is loose and arched, giving the perception that I’m stretching far over the roll, but in reality I’m borrowing all that motion from my more mobile lower back. Stiff middle (thoracic) spine isn’t doing jack.
Now look at the bottom picture. I’m bracing my core and not allowing my lower back to move. Now my thoracic spine is receiving the brunt of the foam roll’s mobilization. It looks like I’m not stretching as far, but my thoracic spine is being mobilized to it’s max. Give it a try feel it for yourself.
For more like this, check out our workshop “Back Pain Explained Part 2″ on Sunday, December 10 at 11am. Don’t worry if you missed the first one, we’ll fill you in.”