fitness in a flash

Shape Up: Bring Your Sexy Back, Back

FullSizeRender-5Whether you sit at a desk for several hours a day, or are on your feet for work, chances are you have a stiff thoracic spine.  This leads to your neck protruding forward, and your lower back taking on too much stress. The overall effect is detrimental to your whole body, and further down the line it can create many serious problems — not to mention, hunched shoulders just aren’t sexy.

Here are five awesome exercises that will improve thoracic spine mobility.

Foam Roller/T-spine Smash Extension

This is a mobility exercise.  It allows you to access deeper layers of muscle tissue, and breaks up adhesions in the fascia (muscle covering).

Lie on your back. Place a foam roller at the base of your ribcage.

Cross your arms over your chest and lay your neck and lower back on the floor. 

Roll up and down focusing on just the middle of your back. When you find a tender spot, hold for 20 seconds and breathe into the stretch. You want to avoid tensing the muscles further, and breath is a great tool to aid that.

Work your way up your spine to the base of the neck – you want to work the areas around the problem spot as well. You can play with the height of your hips and roll up and down, and rock side to side. Do this for two to four minutes every day. 

Thread the needle

• Come to a tabletop position on your hands and knees.

• Stack your elbows and shoulders over your wrists, and your hips over your knees.

• Lift your right arm out to the side and then ‘thread’ it all the way under your left, so that your left shoulder is stacked over your right. Keep your core strong. Again, use your breathing.  Lengthen on your inhales, and on your exhales, gently move a little bit deeper.  Hold for three long breaths and then switch sides. 

Wall angels (or sand angels…we are in LA after all)

• Stand with your back against a wall and lower yourself down as if sitting in a chair.

• Bend your elbows at 90-degree angles, hands toward the sky.

• Keeping the angle in your arms, move your hands up and down against the wall. Make sure your back is pressed into the wall, and your belly button pressed into your spine. Soften your shoulders away from your ears.  Do this 10-15 times.

Rabbit pose

This is generally used in yoga. 

• Begin sitting on your knees. 

• Grab your feet with fingers facing in, thumbs on the outside.

• Engage your core. Drop your chin to your chest and slowly lower down so that the crown of your head touches the floor or mat. Avoid putting weight in your head. 

• Begin to lift your hips off of the floor while continuing to pull on your feet. Hold for 3-4 slow breaths, and then drop your hips, release your hands, and slowly roll up.

Camel pose

Also a pose used in yoga. 

• Stand on your knees and bring them hips-width distance apart.

• Engage your legs and your core, draw your tailbone down, and push your hips forward.

• Stack your hips over your knees and start to gaze up and then back. 

• Open your chest to the sky while keeping your core engaged.  Hold for a few breaths and then slowly come up.  This is a deeper stretch and should be done after a proper warm up.

There you have it! Thoracic spine exercises for every ability and fitness level. Regular practice will have you all feeling loose and sexy again in no time, no matter how tense and tight you are.


For more information or to book a class, visit

The Phoenix Effect, a functional group fitness studio that gets you in shape fast, is offered exclusively at 7264 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA.