Straighten Your Hunched Back with This Upper Back Stretch on the Foam Roller

upper thoracic extension with the foam roller

The upper thoracic spine in extension.

Stretching the upper thoracic area of the spine (upper back) is essential for almost everyone. We need to reverse the damage that we sometimes cause by hunching over computers, books, or personal electronic devices. Upper thoracic extension on the foam roller is a perfect exercise to straighten your spine and help you restore good posture.

Upper Thoracic Extension

  1. Use Pilates breathing throughout.
  2. Take a seat on the floor or mat.
  3. Lean back on your foam roller so that it’s beneath your shoulder blades.
  4. Engage your abdominals, and slightly tilt your pelvis.
  5. Press through the soles of your feet and engage your hamstrings and glutes to lift your hips so that your torso is in a straight line.
  6. Place your fingertips just behind your ears.
  7. Inhale and extend your upper thoracic spine over the foam roller.
  8. upper thoracic flexion

    This is upper thoracic flexion.

    Exhale and flex your spine, making sure to articulate one vertebrae at a time. You want to lift high enough so that the upper part of your torso is coming in to a crunch position.

  9. Inhale to move in to extension, and exhale to move in to flexion.
  10. Complete 8-10 repetitions.

Finding a Foam Roller

If you want to order a foam roller, I recommend the OPTP brand foam roller. Their foam rollers are firm and don’t dent or bend easily. It’s crucial for your foam roller to be firm and stay the same shape throughout its use.

Foam rollers are a great tool to elevate your Pilates mat work, but they’re also wonderful self-massage tools. Here’s a link to some foam roller stretches.

Upper Thoracic Extension Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What do you think of this exercise? Could you feel yourself isolate the muscles of your upper back? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.