Thoracic Mobility - Happy Cat, Angry Cat

by Todd Sabol

What is going on guys, happy Mobility Monday! There is no better way to start the week than by getting a solid training session in, and your training hasto include focusing on your weak points. This week’s Mobility Monday Tip focuses on a mobility movement for your thoracic spine, something I like to call “Happy Cat, Angry Cat”. The spinal column has 33 total vertebrae and is split up into five sections, the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal segments, each having their own responsibility in terms of movement. With the spine being the center of skeletal support, we rely on it for structure in every movement we do. The thoracic spine is the biggest individual section of the spinal column with 12 vertebrae. It is designed to help provide protection to the spinal cord and provide structure to the ribs. One thing that I have noticed, not only within my own training, but also in the vast majority of other athletes who train is poor mobility and control of the thoracic spine, or “midback” area. Many patients I work with, or guys I know at the gym, suffer from that mid back pain, right inside the shoulder blade, sound familiar?

            The pain and discomfort we feel in those areas is typically caused from a combination of poor neuromuscular control and poor mobility of the thoracic spine. Proper control of this segment of the spinal column is vital during many of our common movements in the gym. A weak and poorly mobilized thoracic spine will cause your back to round, during movements like deadlift, front squat or bent over row for example, and additionally in terms of your posture it won’t allow you to maintain a stable neutral spine throughout the day.

            This thoracic spine mobility movement will start with you in a quadruped position. From there you will start by extending your trunk by engaging your midback musculature. Once you have held this position for 1 second, you will then reverse the motion and engage in flexion of the thoracic spine. Hold this position for one second and repeat both directions 12-15 times. You want to make sure you are not initiating the movement from your lumbar spine, but that you are beginning the movement by activating the mid and upper back musculature. If you need an external cue to help you do this, add a mini band around your midback, as I show in the video and using that feedback to push into the band. This will help mobilize your spine in two efficient positions and allow you to obtain more neuromuscular control.


Todd Sabol - Contributor


Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, Functional Examination, Soft Tissue Treatment


BS, Marietta College, 2015

MS, Ohio University, 2017


BOC Certified Athletic Trainer, 2015

OTPTAT Licensed Athletic Trainer, 2015


Currently is in his third year as Head Athletic Trainer at New Lexington High School providing sports medicine services for all athletes. He is the owner of his own sports medicine seminar business which provides seminars for Ohio coaching certifications. He also provides treatment at Old School Gym for Cory Gregory and numerous other members.

"I have always strived to be a practitioner of what I do. Whether that was being a collegiate soccer player or now engaging in powerlifting and bodybuilding, I strive to push my body to its limits like the clients I treat so I can be a more effective clinician. I get no better feeling than having someone leaving a treatment session with me feeling, moving and performing better, it is the reason I love what I do."

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