The middle part of your back or the Thoracic Spine, runs from the base of the neck to the bottom of the ribcage.
There are 12 vertebrae or bones in this part of the spine, T1 to T12. The ribs attach into the vertebrae in the
thoracic spine. This part of the spine can move in a forwards and backwards motion (flexion and extension),
rotation as well as side flexion.
Why is it important to maintain mobility here?
Mobility in particular rotation in the upper back is so important for walking, running and everyday movements
such as looking over the shoulder, turning or reaching to pick up something. If the mid back becomes stiff or
tight the lower back (lumbar spine) or neck (cervical spine) has to do more to get movement and mobility in the
spine. A lot of sports involve a swinging movement – golf/tennis/hurling/baseball etc and having good movement
and mobility in the mid back will help to avoid overloading the lower back and neck. Mobility in the mid back
and freedom of movement in the thoracic spine helps to keep the ribs moving well too.
Simple Tips to Maintain Mobility in the Mid Back:
· Posture – sit up tall and pull shoulders back when sitting or standing.
· Swing the arms when walking or running to encourage movement in the mid
· Deep breathing exercises – on an inhalation practice opening up through the rib
cage help to stretch through the thoracic spine too. Check out our video on
relaxation techniques to learn more on
· Include some rotation movements throughout the day or as part of warm ups
before exercise or sports or walking.
Mobility Exercise 1 – Seated Rotation:
· Sit up tall with hands across chest and slowly turn to the side keeping the pelvis
still on the chair.
· Hold for a deep inhalation and on the exhale come back to the centre.
· Repeat 5 times each way
· This exercise is great to do in work when seated as a desk break or postural break.
· Try the exercise with the hands on the forehead, palms turned outwards and elbows
wide to target a different part of the thoracic spine.
Mobility Exercise 2 – Side Lying Open Book Exercise:
· Lying on the side with knees bent and in line with hips. Hands out straight in
front of you. Aim to keep knees and hips still.
· Lift top hand up to the ceiling and drop hand down rotating through the mid back
and turning chest up to the ceiling. Hold for a deep inhalation.
· On the exhale draw the hand back to the start position.
· Repeat 10 times each way.
· Aim to move from the middle of the back turning the chest up to the ceiling to
improve mobility in the thoracic spine.
Tricia includes mid back mobility and strengthening into her classes. Both Pilates and Yoga are a breath based
movement form of exercise. As mentioned above breathing helps to open up the rib cage and the thoracic spine.
Breath work and connecting movement to mind and body is a key aspect to all of the classes.
“A long and subtle breath establishes a calm mind. A calm mind is the foundation for everything great” – Yogini
Along with the breathing, the classes also focus on segmental mobility through the spine, helping to improve the
mobility in the mid back and strengthening through the core to improve stability in the spine as well. If you
have any stiffness or mobility issues in your upper back, check out our latest classes on our Instagram &
Facebook page or call us on 021-2011159 to book in today for an assessment to improve your quality of movement.