If you want healthy shoulders, your thoracic spine must have a good level of movement. Many people think their shoulders are tight so they go on a crusade of shoulder stretches to increase their mobility. But that's ultimately creating another list of problems, including instability and weakness.
If you struggle with getting a good overhead position in certain lifts, or can't achieve optimal bar placement for back squats, then your thoracic spine could be the issue. Improving your thoracic rotation is a great way to increase your thoracic extension.
Adding this drill to all of your warm-ups is a great way to consistently work on your upper back mobility.
Frog Thoracic Rotations
Here's how to do it:
- From an all-fours position, go wide with your legs so that your point of contact with the floor is the inside of your knees.
- Move your hips back and lock them into place. They shouldn't move from this position during the drill.
- Bring both elbows down to the floor and brace your abs as if you were performing a plank.
- Lift one arm up until it's at a right angle with your thumb pointed backwards. Keep your shoulder blade pinned down flat.
- Squeeze your fist as hard as you can and maintain tension throughout your shoulder.
- Start to rotate through your upper back. You should feel your ribcage being opened up and like you're "pulling" with your back muscles.
- Go as far as you can and pause for a few seconds as you take a deep breath in, then exhale and return to the start position.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 5 reps each side, slow and controlled.
Make sure to use an exercise you're struggling with as a test, like the back squat, overhead squat, or overhead press. Do the exercise a few times, complete a full set of frog thoracic rotations, and then retry your test exercise. You'll notice a difference!