The muscles around your spine, of which there are many, and more broadly all over your back are mainly responsible for stabilising the spine and keeping your back in an upright position.  These muscles of your back and sides allow the upper body and spine to flex (bend forward and to either side), extend (come back up to upright and also slightly backwards) and rotate side to side.


The thoracic spine is the section between the neck and the lower back and it is connected to the rib cage.  If the thoracic spine is stiff, the muscles around it will need to work that little bit harder to pick up the slack.  This in turn can put added pressure on the lower back, which nobody wants as the lower back has enough work to do with the glutes and hip flexors both wanting it’s attention too.


Stretches of the lower, mid and upper back can be soothing but please remember, gently does it!!

Child's Pose

Target area: Lats


If ever you’ve done any sort of yoga practice then you’ll likely have come across Child’s Pose.  It’s a rest position which also provides a lovely stretch to the latissimus dorsi ‘lats’ muscle.  


On a soft surface, kneel on all fours.  Sit back on your heels with your arms outstretched in front.  Your knees can be close together or separated, whatever is most comfortable.  Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.  You should hopefully feel a good stretch through your back.  To increase this you can push your hands forwards and pull your hips further back towards your feet.


You could also make this a more dynamic movement to get some mobility through your hips and lower back whilst also getting the stretch.  As before, kneel on all fours and sit back on to your heels with arms outstretched.  Hold for just a few seconds before coming back forward to the kneeling position.  Repeat this ten times.

Another adaptation of the traditional Child’s Post.  This is a lovely release stretch after a day sat at your desk or in the car.


On a soft surface, kneel on all fours.  Sit back on your heels with your arms outstretched in front.  Slowly shuffle both hands over one side.  Think of your hands starting at 12 o’clock and moving them to 2 o’clock.  Hold her for 30 seconds or so before shuffling back to centre  and then on around to the 2 o’clock position. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.

Cat Cow

Target area:  thoracic spine

Another classic from yoga which will hopefully become a classic in your mobility practice too.  It's a great warm up and also nice at the end of activity or a long day.


Start on all fours with hips and knees in line as best you can.  Try to keep your wrists, elbows and shoulders in line too.  Start with your back flat. Staring with your tail bone, tuck your pelvis, round your upper back and tuck your chin to chest.  Hold here in ‘cat’ for a few seconds.  Next, starting to move your tail bone first, tilt your hips up, drop your tummy towards the floor and rasie your chin and chest as you look up.  Try to draw your shoulders away from ears.  Hold here in ‘cow’ for a few seconds.  Repeat this flowy movement a few times, taking your time to move slowly between each position.


You can practice this pose throughout your day and while travelling. Sit in a chair (or car seat, once you’re parked up of course!!) with your feet flat on the floor. Press your hands against a desk, wall, steering wheel in front of you and do the same movements by ticking your hips and arching your back one way and then the other.

Thoracic Extension

Target areas: Thoracic spine and lats


This is a great stretch if you’re in the office and taking to the floor on all fours would not be the done thing.  It’s also a nice release after a cycle.


Stand facing a wall, just a little more than arm length away from it.  Place your hands flat on the wall and bend your knees slightly.  Push your hips back and allow your chest to drop down towards the floor, keeping your hands where they are.  You should feel a nice stretch through your back.  Hold here for about 30 seconds or so. 


Again, you can create a dynamic movement with the stretch.  Rather than holding for thirty seconds, hold for just 5 seconds or so before returning to standing.  Repeat this cycle about ten times.

Thread the needle

Target area: rhomboids, back and shoulders


This is a great stretch/mobility practice to work on the rhomboids.  These muscles sit between the medial (inside) edge of the shoulder blade and the spine.  They draw the shoulder blades back together, like we’re so often prompted to do when trying to achieve a ‘better’ posture.  When shoulders are rounded forward (at a computer, on a phone, driving, etc.), the rhomboids can become a wee bit overstretched and overworked.  Threading the needle will help to ease this and help with tension created.

Kneel on the floor on all fours.  Try to have your hips over your knees and shoulders over your ankles.  Pass one arm underneath your chest across the other side.  Bend your leaning elbow and drop your head down to the floor.  You should feel a stretch across your shoulder blade.  Hold here for about thirty seconds before coming back to all fours and repeating on the opposite side.


This can also be used as a nice dynamic movement.  Hold the stretch for just a few seconds before returning to all fours and repeating the sequence five to ten times on each side.

Thoracic rotation

Target area: thoracic spine mobility


Your body doesn’t move just backwards and forwards, it turns and rotates too.  Think of when you look over your shoulder before crossing the road or turning around to see who calls your name.  This mobility practice will help to keep your thoracic spine nice and supple, therefore putting less pressure on the other muscles of your back.


Kneel on the floor on all fours.  Try to have your hips over your knees and shoulders over your wrists.  Place one hand on the back of your head.  Slowly and gently lift this elbow up towards the ceiling.  Turn your upper body to look towards the lifted elbow.  Hold for a few seconds before dropping it back down reaching toward your leaning wrist if you can.  Repeat this sequence five to ten times before doing the same for the opposite side.

Cobra pose adaptation

Target areas:  Abdominal, chest and shoulders stretch.  Lower back mobility.

This is another stretch adopted from yoga.  If you spend your days sat down at a desk or driving, then the muscles in the front of your body can become tense.  This stretch provides a nice length to the muscles of your abdominals, chest, shoulders and front of your neck.  


Lie face down with your hands close to your shoulders and elbows tucked in next to your body.  Push through with your arms to lift your body off the floor whilst trying to  keeping your hips close to the floor.  Try to squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your chin.  Hold here for thirty seconds for a static stretch, or hold for just a few seconds before returning to the starting lying position and repeating for a more dynamic movement.

If you have the range of movement, and no lower back pain, then you can press one hip further to the floor and turn to the opposite side.  This creates a nice rotation.  Hold here for thirty seconds or so before returning to face forward.  Again this can be made more dynamic by holding for just a few seconds and rotating from side.