Thoracic Loosening For Swimmer

Gentle Loosening of the Tricky Thoracic Spine

Wow thoracic spines are a juicy hot topic for Rehab Trainers around the world! The “backbone” of so many issues (geddit? c’mon, smile with me), and that’s not even thinking about digestion / gut issues, breathing mechanics, cardiac disease and the other thoracic-related problems that can plague both clients and us Fitness and Health Professionals.
I received a bunch of great questions on this topic. I’ve picked two to lead our conversation about “Tricky Thoracic Spines”, followed by a great video in which I make it really clear how to work with the Posture Pro and movement retraining to deal with those problematic thoracics.
Keep up the awesome work you’re doing. Helping people be at home in their bodies – fit, free to move, without pain – is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.


Dear Ulrik,
What about a client with Scheuermann’s disease? I have a client (female, 25) experiencing ongoing fatigue I suspect from having to hold her back up all the time, causing tightness in upper traps/levator scap.  It’s like her scapular are glued to her rib cage like a block of cement. Would be interested to  hear any thoughts.?
Rehab Trainer in Australia

Oh, that is a challenge Tania! – Scheuermann’s Disease (see here for info on it from a highly credible Orthopaedic Group in Brisbane, Australia) could be a called a form of ‘genetic stiffness’ of the spine, and needs a very slow introduction of loosening work such as I describe in the video below.

Don’t be scared off by how Scheuermann’s presents, instead, in conjunction with a referral to good Medical Professional, start your loosening program. Neck and head pain, shoulder issues will slowly become manageable as mobility steadily increases and posture is retrained. Go the ‘turtle’ approach – slow and steady. The All-Four’s loosening position – demonstrated in the video below – is also great because it allows myofascial release of the sore muscles, such as Rhomboids and Traps.
– Ulrik


Hi Ulrik

What if the whole spine is quite flat (including thoracic and lower) as often seen in Pilates instructors? I am concerned about my thoracic spine’s lack of kyphosis.  I only score 2 or 3 on the hyperflexibility scale – still… my osteopath says I have a “soft body”, he will only treat me 5 minutes at a time (to avoid over-treating) and mostly mild treatment (rarely ever high-velocity joint manipulation).


Rehab Trainer in England

The flat or hyper-mobile thoracic spine can also be called a bit “Tricky”, Emanuela, in that you shouldn’t be too aggressive in your client or self-loosening – your Osteopath is right!

Go light, as demonstrated in the video below, to release trigger points and mobilise fascia, taking care not to beat up on the joints. My favourite for these situations is doing Posture Pro and Movement Retraining in the All Four’s position because this helps activate Serratus Anterior (the essential scapula and thoracic connector muscle which may be weak and causing winging) and re-integrate the curve of the kyphosis which is often absent.

– Ulrik

Gentle Loosening on Clients with Tricky Thoracic Spines – use these on any clients especially if they fit the descriptions of:
+ Hypermobile or Flat Thoracic Spines.
+ Diagnosed or suspicious of Medical Conditions related to the spine.
+ Pain is more than just niggling or easy to live with / experiencing pins and needles at anytime.