Top Five Thoracic Mobility Drills to Improve Your Overhead Pressing | Modern Manual Therapy Blog

Top Five Thoracic Mobility Drills to Improve Your Overhead Pressing

Today's Guest post is from my colleague Dr. Zach Long, of The Barbell Physio! He is releasing #bulletproofmobility in 3 days! It has a good progression of mobility drills and assessments for anyone into movement/fitness.

Thoracic mobility is one of the most important mobility drills for the fitness athlete.

The thoracic spine plays a huge role in keeping the shoulders and the lumbar spine working properly, and pain free. To test thoracic mobility, I look at rotation each direction. This lets me know if there is a unilateral restriction. Limited rotation also means there will be decreased extension in the thoracic spine.

  1. Sidelying Rotations
Sidelying rotations make a great warm up for anyone with a unilateral restriction and can be done without any equipment.

2. Quadruped Rotations
Quadruped rotations have a distinct advantage because with the use of therabands or resistance bands, I can actually load thoracic movement lightly. While I don’t always do this, I find loading the movement helps create a little stability in the spine and will help athletes “lock-in” any mobility gains they get a little better.
Quadruped t
  1. Bench Thoracic Spine Extensions
These make a great exercise to incorporate a little mobility into the long head of the triceps as well as the shoulders and thoracic spine. A partner can provide some overpressure by pushing between the shoulder blades for further push into mobility restrictions.
Bench Thoracic Extensions
  1. Foam Roll With Weight
The foam roll holding a weight allows an athlete to provide some self-overpressure while mobilizing the thoracic spine and shoulders. Make sure the abdominals stay contracted to prevent lumbar hyperextension as this will decrease this stretch’s usefulness. To work on this, cue the athlete to keep their rib cage down.
  1. Barbell Opener
The Barbell Opener is my absolute favorite drill for improving overhead mobility by mobilizing the thoracic spine and the shoulders simultaneously. I have my hand width equal to whatever exercise I’m doing that day (wide for snatches, narrow for pressing). The partner overpressure makes this an amazing mobility drill.
Check out Zach's blog at and be sure to check out #bulletproofmobility when it is released next week!

Interested in live cases where I apply this approach and integrate it with pain science, manual therapy, repeated motions, IASTM, with emphasis on patient education? Check out Modern Manual Therapy!

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