3 Ways to Improve Your Back Mobility | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

3 Ways to Improve Your Back Mobility

May 4, 2013 | Robert Taylor

Must See Flexibility Videos

Try to lift your arms straight over your head without bending your elbows. Do you feel tension in your back? If so, you may have t-spine mobility issues that can hurt your game and lead to injury.

The t-spine is the middle section of the back where the ribs attach to the spine. It's designed to provide a high degree of mobility, but if it is compromised, a cascade of problems can occur. (Read How to Build Scapular Stability.) For one thing, it can cause your lower back—which is meant to be stable—to become mobile. It must then deal with the force of your entire upper body, along with new movement that it's not meant to handle. Second, it can impede skill mechanics, decreasing strength, power and accuracy in these movements. Finally—and most concerning—it can place excessive stress on the shoulder, which can lead to injury down the line.

So it's important to find time to improve your t-spine mobility. All you need is five minutes two or three times per week. If your coaches don't value this critical aspect of training, show them this article. Hopefully it will convince them. (Learn about soft-tissue care.)

Incorporate these modalities into your warm-up to start improving your t-spine mobility today.

Foam Rolling

  • Lie with a foam roller under your back.
  • Roll slowly over your shoulder blades and vertebrae. Do not roll your lower back.
  • Focus on tender spots. Shift your body to each side to hit different muscles.
  • Vary your arm position from hugging across your chest to behind your head and overhead.

Thoracic Two-Tennis Ball Mini-Crunch

  • Tape two tennis balls together.
  • Place the balls at the level of your lowest rib, where the thoracic spine meets the lumbar spine. The balls should sit over the erector muscles.
  • Perform mini-crunches, lifting one vertebra off the ground at a time. Lift your hands forward at a 45-degree angle. Return your head to the floor with each rep.
  • After 3-5 reps, move up to the next vertebra (toward your head) and repeat until the tennis balls are just below your neck.

Side-Lying Rotations

  • Lie on your right side with a foam roller under your left knee.
  • Bend your left leg to about 90 degrees and keep your right leg straight.
  • Extend your arms in front of you with your hands together.
  • Keep your hips and lumbar spine stable by pressing down on the roller with your leg.
  • Rotate along your thoracic spine until your upper back and top arm are flat against the ground (or as close as you can manage) to form a T with your upper body.
  • Rotate back to the starting position.
  • Perform a set on the opposite side.

Sets/Reps: 2x12 each side

Watch this video from SMARTER Team Training for more info on thoracic mobility.

Editor's Note: Coach Taylor has developed the SMARTER Team Training Audio Interview Series, dedicated to promoting critical thinking, reason and public understanding of prudent, purposeful and productive strength and conditioning practices for clients and athletes. Listen to episodes featuring some of the best experts in the fields of strength and conditioning, personal training, sports nutrition and sport psychology here.

[cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf]

Topics: BACK
Robert Taylor
- Robert Taylor is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Training. He has served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Loyola University Maryland;...
Robert Taylor
- Robert Taylor is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Training. He has served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Loyola University Maryland;...
Must See
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 2,153,856
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 81,125
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,518,162

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: University of Wisconsin Views: 224,260
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 117,335
Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 388,894
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

How Hockey Goalies Can Get More Flexible for a Better Butterfly

As a hockey goalie, you pride yourself on your positional play. You are right where you need to be to make the first save, but the puck still ends up in...

Balance Exercises That Are Game-Changers

6 Thoracic Spine Exercises to Improve Mobility

Green Bay Packers Discover Football's Fountain of Youth

How to Fix 4 Common Tight Areas in Your Body

3 Tips To Make Your Stretching Routine More Effective

Improve Your Squat With 6 At-Home Hip Flexor Mobility Exercises

Patrick Peterson's Yoga Workout

3 Yoga Twists to Keep You on the Field and Improve Your Game

The Ultimate Pitcher's Warm-Up: 4 Shoulder Exercises with Bands

The Most Important Muscle You've Never Heard Of

Stay Pain-Free With These Advanced Stretches

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for a Safe, Effective Workout

Why and When You Need to Change Your Pre-Game Warm-Up Routine

12 Dynamic Stretches Football Players Must Do

Mobility Training for Hockey Goalies

3 Exercises That Fix Common Baseball Hip Mobility Issues

Improve Your Balance with Stability Ball Exercises

You're Doing It Wrong: The Warm-Up

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises Done the Right Way

Fundamentals of a Pre-Workout Warm-Up

Dig Like a Pro: Exercises for Volleyball Mobility

Flexibility for Cross Country From the Ground Up

Increase Your Flexibility Without Stretching

Pre-Match Warm-Ups that Will Improve Your Tennis Game

The Importance of Recovery Workouts

Add Warrior Poses to Your In-Season Training

These 9 Exercises Will Improve Your Hip Mobility

The Best Stretching Exercise for You

Are Tight Hips Slowing You Down?

Pre-Workout Warm-Up Steps You Can't Afford to Skip

Must-Have Additions to Your Baseball Stretching Routine

A Tight Back May Hurt Your Performance and Health

Animal Flow Scorpion Reach for Injury Prevention

How to Release Muscle Knots and Trigger Points

Why You Shouldn't Stretch 24 Hours Before a Game

Go the Distance With This Baseball Yoga Warm-Up

Best Exercises for Improving Joint Mobility

Pro Secrets, Revealed: The Perfect Workout Warm-Up

Find Your Effective Pregame Basketball Warm-Up

Reducing Tight Hamstrings without Stretching for Hockey Players