3 Ways To Improve Your Thoracic Spine Rotation

The thoracic spine is a buzzword within the physical therapy world, and for good reason. We believe the thoracic spine is one of the cornerstones of the body when it comes to movement and performance.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of transverse plane (rotational) movement and the fact that our days revolve around sitting, this area often becomes hypomobile. This hypomobility can then becomes a driver of neck, shoulder, and lower back discomfort.

But just because a stiff upper back is a common occurrence doesn’t mean that you need to fit this stereo-type.

Here are 3 strategies you can start incorporating today to improve your thoracic spine rotation.


  1. Think of daily movement as flossing but for your body. We floss our teeth to keep them healthy and clean so you can maintain that beautiful, sparkling smile. We want to do the same for the body. Movement is our tool to keep our joints healthy and strong.

  2. One of our favorite ways of doing this is Controlled Articular Rotations. Perform this spine variation daily to maintain that beautiful, sparkling spine!

Thoracic Spine CARs

Linear Before Rotation

  1. When looking to improve your spine’s range of motion you must follow this one simple rule. Train linear motions before rotation. Flexion and extension of the spine are components of rotation, therefore, if we are limited in these ranges of motion, rotation will be hard to come by.

  2. Start by teaching yourself how to segment your spine better. We love cat/camels for this reason. Try these variations.

General Cat Camel

Lumbar Spine Cat/Camel

Passive Flexibility and End Range Strength

  1. There are two categories that one can fall into if they have poor mobility.

    1. A true mobility limitation, which is defined as having decreased passive and active range of motion.

    2. Stability/Motor Control issue, which is defined as having sufficient passive range of motion but decreased active range of motion.

  2. We would attack each of these differently.

  3. In the first scenario, we would have to build up passive range of motion first. Without it, it will be impossible to improve our active control. This is done by doing passive stretching with long-duration holds (greater than 2 mins).

T/Spine Rotation with Breathing

4. In the second scenario, we can skip the passive stretching and go right into creating control of our movement.

½ Kneeling T/Spine Rotation with Stick

Ultimately, a fourth option that we recommend is to get assessed.

We believe the exercises in the post will improve your Thoracic Spine mobility, but there is no substitute for getting assessed and finding out exactly what is driving your symptoms. This is why we offer free 15-minute discovery calls. Fill out the form below and chat with us so we can help you figure out what the best course of action is for you!


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