Top 4 Exercises To Improve Thoracic Mobility

By now you should be convinced that improving and maintaining thoracic mobility is a great idea for many different reasons. The rounded back (thoracic kyphosis) epidemic is upon us and this postural habit starts at a very young age and is detriment to our health. Everyone at some point in time has experienced an episode of upper back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain just to name a few. On average adults spend most of their day sitting at work, watching TV, using their phones, and driving. We usually do our activities sitting down, rounded through the thoracic spine, which puts unwanted added stress to our spine.

The thoracic spine is built for rotation, flexion and let’s not forget extension. It’s designed to be highly mobile or at least it should be. Because of its mobility it must be used and must be moved.

In order to increase mobility we have to know that it first exists at all. If not we’ll attempt to rotate and bend with something more familiar the lumbar spine. That’s bad news!

In other words your thoracic spine is an important area of your body to have good mobility and range of motion and is probably the reason you experience unwanted aches and pain.

Benefits of Improved Thoracic Mobility

  • Lack of kyphosis (Rounded upper back)
  • A less painful more stable low back
  • More lung volume
  • Healthier shoulders
  • Greater range of motion
  • Improved posture
  • Decreased back aches, pain and stiffness

Today I want to share with you 4 exercises to help promote mobility in the thoracic spine. I recommend performing each exercise daily to reap the most benefit.

Cat/Camel Stretch

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips.
  2.  Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat.
  3. Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
  4. Next, move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
  5. Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
  6. Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
  7. Repeat 5-20 times, and then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.

Foam Roller T-spine Extension Mobilization

  1. Put the foam roller under your upper back / thoracic spine. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. 
  2. Place your hands behind your head.
  3. Let your head fall to the floor and try to wrap yourself around the foam roller, extending the thoracic spine over the roller. 
  4. Roll, slowly up and down the vertebrae, pausing on any painful parts (do not roll the neck or lower back, focussing solely on the thoracic spine).

Foam Roller Kneeling Downward Rotation

  1. Start in an “All 4’s” position (quadruped).
  2. Take your right hand and slide it on the ground across and under your left arm as far as possible.
  3. As you drop your right shoulder to the ground in an attempt to reach across your body, it should bring out a light stretch to your mid back.
  4. Hold this stretch for a few seconds and perform 10 repetitions on each side.

Foam Roller Prayer Stretch

  1. Start in a kneeling position.
  2. Sit your hips back on your heels and push your hands out in front of you (one hand on top of the other).
  3. Next, let your chest drop down to the floor. Continue to reach with your arms together overhead while you let your breath out slowly.
  4. Try to sink your chest towards the ground.

The exercises shared today are not a one time fix for improving mobility. They will not fix any stiffness or aches in one session. If you do notice a small change in movement quality after performing these for the first time you should consider adding these corrective exercises into your daily routine. Consistency is key for progression in mobility, especially in this region of the body.

The Best Sleeping Positions For Low Back Pain

Low back pain not only affects us when we sit, walk and run it even affects our sleep quality. Believe it or not some back pain is caused by the way we sleep and sometimes can even worsen our already existing back pain. So what are the best sleeping position for your spine?

You’re probably here because you have some type of agonizing, irritating back pain that keeps you up all night. Well you’ve come to the right place and be prepared for life changing tips. In this article I will be telling you about the 3 best sleeping positions, step-by-step instructions and when it’s appropriate to see your doctor.

3 Best Sleeping Positions

Not only can your back pain be irritated by a poor nights sleep but poor sleeping position can certainly be the cause. For people experiencing lower back pain at night, trying out the following postures and tips may provide relief.

1. Sleeping on your back with knee support

I’m sure you’ve heard that sleeping on your back is usually considered the gold standard sleeping position to maintain a healthy back. If you sleep on your back naturally, try placing a pillow under your knees to help maintain the natural curve in your spine. This position minimizes added pressure on the spine and ensures neutral alignment of the head, neck, low back and pelvis.

In order to adopt this sleeping position, you should:

  1. Lie flat on your back facing the ceiling.
  2. Place a pillow under your neck (1 pillow is best to avoid neck from adopting a flexed position.
  3. Place a pillow under your knees.
  4. For added support place a pillow in remaining gaps between your body and the mattress (as seen in the image)

2. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees

Laying on your side is definitely a popular comfortable position most people adopt. However, this position can add strain and pressure on the spine especially the lower back. Maybe you have been told by your doctor to sleep on your back from now on but lets be honest its hard to break old habits especially sleeping habits. Correcting this position is easy. If you’re a side sleeper placing a firm pillow between your knees is a simple and effective way to restore alignment in your spine, hips, pelvis and spine.

In order to adopt this sleeping position, you should:

  1. Get into bed and lay on your side.
  2. Position a pillow to support your head and neck.
  3. Place your knee towards your torso then place a pillow between them.
  4. For added support place a pillow in remaining gaps between your body and the mattress (as seen in the image).

3. Sleep on your front with a pillow underneath your stomach

All my stomach sleepers I’m sure you’ve heard by now that this is probably the worst position to sleep in and puts the most strain on your lower back especially if you already have an accentuated curve. But if you struggle to sleep in any other position placing a small pillow underneath your stomach and hips can improve the alignment of your spine.

In order to adopt this sleeping position, you should:

  1. Get into bed and lie on your stomach.
  2. Place a pillow to support head and neck.
  3. Position another pillow underneath you stomach and hips. This will allow your mid-section to be lifted and flatten out your low back spinal curve.
  4. For added support place a pillow in remaining gaps between your body and the mattress (as seen in the image).

When To Seek A Doctor

If your back pain is worse after a nights rest you should speak to your doctor. You should also seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms related back pain:

  1. Sudden difficulty passing urine.
  2. Loss of bowel/bladder control.
  3. Nights sweats.
  4. Unexpected weight loss.
  5. Chest pain.

If you’ve been dealing with longstanding back pain that isn’t getting better overtime and is affecting your ability to perform normal daily activities and causing a lack of sleep, you should speak to a Chiropractor. Where you can get assessed and develop a treatment plan best suited for you in order to improve symptoms.


As a Chiropractor I hear a ton of misconceptions and myths about back pain that ABSOLUTELY blows my mind. Back pain is among the most common cause of disability in today’s world and just about everyone will experience back pain in their lifetime. You are not alone! Even as a back expert I experience bouts of back pain too. In today’s article my goal is to weed through the clutter of myths and misconceptions on low back pain and show you the facts/truths. If you are among the millions of people who suffer from chronic low back pain it’s so important to know what is truly going to help your back pain get better. It’s as simple as just knowing what works and what doesn’t work to help you heal faster and believe it or not the healing process starts at home.

Before we get started I just wanted to let you know if you are someone who is tired of suffering from chronic pain and hasn’t had improvement or has seen every healthcare professional out there and you’re about to lose hope – you’ve come the right place and I am so excited to have you. What you know and how you treat your pain with ultimately effect how you heal. Don’t let the following myths about pain management keep you from feeling better.

MYTH #1: I have a bad back, so I should stay in bed and rest.

I am just going to start off with this statement – MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE! Prolonged bed rest is actually associated with higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery, and greater absence from work. I know what you’re thinking, “I’m in pain and any movement hurts”. I hear you but just remember pain is a signal not a hindrance. In most cases, stretching, walking, swimming are some ways to help keep you mobile and get you through back pain better than bedrest ever will. Say it with me out loud – movement is medicine!

MYTH #2: I need an X-ray or MRI to cure my back pain.

Thankfully in most cases diagnostic imaging is not necessary. A thorough clinical assessment (medical history and physical exam) by a Chiropractor is usually enough to identify the problem and get you back to normal. Chiropractors are well equipped to know how serious your back pain really is. TRUST me more often then not your back pain is curable without any imaging!

MYTH #3: I need surgery to cure my back pain.

There is a small percentage of people who may need a referral to the surgeon but this option should only be considered once a trial of conservative care (pain management treatments) was not successful. Most back pain, even chronic pain is not treated with surgery. Don’t be so quick to turn to surgery because once you go under the knife you can’t go back. Take time to try different natural, drug-free interventions such as Chiropractic care. I promise you will be shocked at the results.

MYTH #4: I hurt my back, so I’ll probably have a bad back from now on.

Remember pain is very common, but with a good pain management and back pain prevention protocol you can have a healthy back even with a history of back pain. Staying active, mobile, flexible and maintaining good posture (with sitting, lifting and bending) are great ways to keep your spine healthy and prevent further injury. Try to avoid lifting heavy objects and smoking, maintain a balanced diet and control your weight. Keep in mind most back pain goes away in a few days. If your back pain persists talk to your Chiropractor.