Thoracic Extensions on Foam Roller

Posted on 12 Dec 2011 19:46

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A foam roller is a long cylindrical piece of dense foam that is used for self general self myofascial release, which is a type of self-massage. The thoracic extension on a foam roller is not meant to be myofascial release, as most foam roller activities are. The body does not move over the foam roller during performance of the exercise. Instead, the roller acts only as a hinge point across the upper back, allowing thoracic extension to be better isolated.

Mobility Category

Thoracic (improves thoracic extension)

Items Needed

Foam roller, rolled up towels, or rolled up foam mat (thin mat)


1. Place the foam roller on the floor and sit in front of it so that the roller is perpendicular to your body.

2. Lower your back down onto the roller and and position it just below your shoulder blades.

3. Keep your butt and feet on the floor.

4. Place your hands around the back of your hand and bring your elbows forward/together

5. Tuck your chin by bringing your head slightly back and then pretending you are holding a tennis ball under your chin. Maintain this tucked position throughout the exercise.

6. Extend your body back and try to touch the back of your head to the floor and pause for a moment. Do not allow your butt or feet to leave the floor. Do not extend your neck back, keep your chin tucked.

7. Return to the start position, as if doing an abdominal crunch (do not pull your head with your hands).

8. Repeat for a few repetitions and then move the roller slightly higher on your back, repeat process until you have reached the shoulder region of your back.

Thoracic Extension on Foam Roller Video Demonstration

Important Notes

  • Do NOT place the foam roller under your neck. EVER!
  • As noted above, do not extend your neck backwards during the exercise, keep your chin tucked.
  • Do not allow your lower back to arch during the performance of the movement. The extension movement should come from the thoracic region of the spine, only.
  • You may not be able to touch your head to the floor in all roller positions. This is not important as mobility will improve over time. Just move to end range of motion, pause, and repeat.


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