Updated: Nov 19, 2021
A lot of us sit at desks, drive, wash dishes by hand - which means we're hunched over. This is not a good position to be in. Being hunched over is shortening our thoracic mobility which can hinder overhead lifting such as a should press or even a handstand. And it causes unwanted tension in our shoulder and neck area!
This might seem crazy too. If you lack thoracic mobility and you're an athlete; like a runner, tennis player, golfer, or basketball player, when you twist, your thoracic spine isn't able to twist to its normal range of motion which is 90 degrees of rotation. What happens then is your lower back, pelvis, your knees, shoulders, and ankles all try to compensate. This is going to set you up for an orthopedic injury like a torn ACL or shoulder impingement for example.
How do we fix these round shoulders and hunched posture? One way is with a foam roller.
Let's look at a common mistake. When you roll out with the foam roller in the thoracic region a lot of people will put their hands behind their head which is great if you have a weak neck BUT not so great for targeting the thoracic spine region.
What could happen when your hands are behind your head is retraction of your shoulder blades. This can cause sort of blockade to your spine. It becomes more difficult to mobilize your spine when it has a blockade around it. This isn't always the case but now you can be more aware.
What should you do instead?
A solution to mobilizing your thoracic spine is to put your arms straight up in the air and protract your shoulder blades so that your thoracic spine is now in contact with the foam roller. You want to make your spine the lowest point. You could even cross your arms over your chest.
Another mistake is once you're in that well-rounded position you are just rolling back and forth too quickly. A good way to start if you don't know exactly where to begin is your T12 vertebrae and work your way up one vertebrae at a time. Another thing that can happen is we put our body in a position of stabilization - activating our core - this can prevent good mobilization.
What should you do instead?
Alright, we've gone through all this work to reach our thoracic spine, we're rounded and rolling out. When you engage your core you're stabilizing your spine, making it stiff and strong. We actually want to relax the core and let our thoracic spine extend since that is the goal; more extension.
Drop your hips, get the abs out of the picture and sink back like a couch potato. This is the only time you'll hear that from us most likely, so don't get used to it. Start rolling a little bit back and forth on that tight area. Mobilize it for about a minute or so and try to get more extension. Try to put your arms straight and extended straight up above your head into overhead extension, like if you were doing a handstand.
We hope this helps! Thanks for reading.