The shoulders and thoracic spine can easily get beaten up by heavy lifting and hard workouts. John Rusin of John Rusin Fitness Systems demonstrates three different foam rolling exercises that can relieve pain and tightness in the area.


To set up for these exercises:


  1. Face the foam roller and lie down on your side with your body parallel to it.
  2. Bend the knee of your top foot to a ninety-degree angle and place your lower leg on top of the foam roller. Keep your bottom leg straight,
  3. Press down through your knee and ankle, and pull the toes of both feet up toward you.
  4. Stack your shoulders in line with each other.


From that position, perform the following mobilizations:


  1. Rib Grab - Use your top hand to grab the back of your rib cage on the opposite side, near the lat, and pull your rib cage up.
  2. Shoulder Rotation - Begin with your hands stacked. Lift your top hand and rotate it above and behind you all the way to the ground.
  3. Arch Sweep - With your hands stacked, slide the top hand forward as far as possible, reaching with your shoulder. Then, palm still facing the ground, sweep it above your head. Above that point, turn your palm up, and sweep your hand as far back behind you as you can before returning to the starting point.


Use these progressions in your foam rolling mobility routine to make your shoulder girdle and thoracic spine more flexible and resistant to injury.


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