Mid thoracic flexibility

Any tips for building it up? I can't do an overhead squat or even attempt a snatch because my back just feels locked and pinches around mid thoracic point so I can't sit upright.

I work in a Chiropractic clinic and they've crunched me a couple of times but hasn't really had an effect.

Any ideas?

Wall squats are good for building up the ability to not lean forward in your squat --

<object width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/7VIm3eZaA5I&quot;&gt;&lt;/param&gt;&lt;param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param></object>

Just don't let your ass curl under like mine does at the bottom of this -- this is a video from over a year ago. Also try to keep your arms as straight as possible - don't let them bend at the elbows. As you get better you can stand closer and closer to the wall.

Nice one RG!

That's you in the video??

Yep that's me! lol! Like a year ago a bunch of us from CrossFit LA put together a collection of demo videos to put on our website and we put them all up on YouTube as well. If you search for "Petranek" on YouTube you'll find all sorts of stuff.

Yes, that's a deceptively easy-looking (but great!) exercise.

RG, I picture you differently. :)

4 Ranges -- is that good or bad?? ;)

Paul -- Yeah, if it's super hard for you, start back from the wall a bit. Also put something underneath you, like a low box or a medicine ball, like I did. That way if you crash, you're just going to sit down on the object, not splat on the floor. I've found doing that helps clients relax and not get all anxious when doing it.


it's good, good. :)

Honestly, I don't know HOW this got in my head, but everytime I read your post, I pictured you as...a female Mark Twight! LOL!!!

There was NOTHING that you did that somehow got this picture in my head, so it's not you at all.

That's why I was surprised in a good way, lol!!

Ha! Too funny! Have you seen my profile pic on here? Click on my name - and better behave, 'cause I know how to use that thing. ;)


You know I never bothered to look up your profile (I don't look up anyone's profile, actually).

You must have had fun taking that pic! LOL!! NICE!

The Mark Twight image has been erased and replaced. :)

Thanks Ring Girl. Great exercise/drill! Had a little play with it and got on ok. How do you progress once your more or less flat against the wall? Don't really feel a problem until my arms are more or less right above my head.


Its likely not an issue with your back, but rather your shoulders and scapula. Have the chiro check the degree of posterior concavity of your thoracic spine first. This can inhibit some scapular motion. If that checks out then you are clear to work on shoulder flexibility.

I would recommend, in addition to doing what RG has posted, to also put your hands against a wall up over head, and just bend to stretch the shoulders. The CRITICAL part of this stretch is that you do NOT compensate by increasing the arch in your back, which won't facilitate great ROM in the shoulder joint and scapula. Increase the stretch only at the shoulder, and not the spine.


Oh, and RG. Have you corrected the curving of the spine?


Vermonter -- Yep, indeed I have. That video is from a year ago and I'm tons stronger and my squat much better than it was then. I haven't done a test, like you were talking about on the other thread, to see how far I can go maintaining perfect form, but I know it's below the ball now, 'cause I don't use it anymore.

It may be the boooze speaking but.... send me a vid, and when i'm a little less tipsy i can review your form.

Measure your foot width, your height, the box height, and don't extend the glenohumeral joint (that's a different host of problems). If your form is off, ill tell you why.



my threads

At work this morning I asked one of the chiropractors if they could think of any way to build up mid thoracic flexibility but they couldn't really think of anything.

Felt pretty tired today (saturdays are early starts at the clinic!) so instead of doing my normal workout I had a play around day, focusing on helping my overhead squat and back/shoulder flexibility.

I did dumbbell curl and presses trying to bring my arm back/inline with my head as much as I could, and inbetween sets I did pull overs. I haven't done pull overs for years but from doing them I could really feel how tight I was, particularly in the lats. Maybe the pinching feeling I've had is the lat dorsi insertion into the lower thoracic vertebra. Would make sense as in OH squats it gets put under a pretty strong stretch. I've been doing a lot of weighted pull ups recently and guess I've neglected stretching afterwards.

Also tried partial squats here and there when the dumbells were in the air. Felt difficult but I'm going to have another go at some point as it also felt like it'd be a good exercise for shoulder stabilisation.

Did med ball rotations for core and that felt like things loosened a little bit in the back.

To finish I practised over head squats with just a light 10kg bar just to work on form and work out the niggles. Still felt tight and awkward but wasn't as bad as before.

Why? Because of supraspinatus impingement?

Paul - I usually see the knee thing in newer clients who are weaker. Doesn't mean they aren't active people, but they are weak in that aspect and may have a whole variety of issues with their squats. I tell them first to visualize pushing outward with their knees the whole time they are squatting -- I help them with this by sitting in front of them as they squat and physically pushing in on the outside of their knees with my palms, causing them to have to push outward throughout the squat. Sometimes you can also have them step inside a resistance band (you'll have to tie it to adjust to the right length) and have them squat while pushing out on the resistance band the whole time. In general I find this problem becomes less and less as the person gets more experience squatting and strengthens up.


I've talked about two different issues with the spine, so i'm not sure which you are talking about.

First is the loss of lordotic curve, IE. a loss in anterior concavity of the lumbar spine, IE. a flattening of the lower back and subsequent posterior rotation of the pelvis to account for the sudden loss in mobility, during the lower portion of a squat.

Second is a lack of mobility in the glenohumeral joint, and/or in the scapula. This can come from a number of issues, including tight muscles and excessive posterior concavity of the thoracic spine, I.E. a "humback" (which may not necessarily be visible to the untrained eye).

Now in the video that ring girl presented, her loss in mobility in the bottom of the squat could arise from either issue, or both together. Even with suitably mobile hips, too much stability in the glunohumeral/scapular region or some structural problem can cause the body to look for its mobility elsewhere, typically the spine (this is most evident when an athlete raises his/her hands over head and as a result, the ribs pop out, indicating a significant portion of the mobility has come from the spine). With the demands of shoulder mobility coming from the spine, hip mobility could subsequently be limited to maintain the overhead posture of the hands.

As such i recommend testing the shoulder and hips seperately, rather than together as in RG's video. If you can maintain the lordotic curve down to a sub 10-inch squat with arms directly over head, you should consider competing in the olympic lifts :) If not, you'd be best served developing mobility and avoiding heavy deep squats and full olympic style lifts for a time.


-jacks slowly to the video-

Oops... This isn't the OG? I mean... nice discussion here!