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March 7, 2023
Author: Shelby
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  • Star Exercise of the Week: Thoracic Extension Stretch in a Chair

Recall from previous topics we’ve discussed that the thoracic spine is a part of the shoulder complex.

A stiff or painful thoracic spine can absolutely contribute to the development of a painful shoulder. Not to mention an obvious pain in the back!

This is why it’s important to include exercises in your home routine that incorporate thoracic mobility training.

Today, we’ll be focusing on a thoracic extension stretch while seated in a chair.

This exercise is very easy and convenient to perform any time, anywhere.  All you need is a chair with back support.

Now, I will admit that I’m not crazy about the chair I’m having to use for a demo (unfortunately, it’s all I had available). The back is a little too high for my taste with this particular exercise.

Although I can still use the chair back in the images here as a good support to lean into to press into thoracic extension, I would achieve better range if the chair back ended at about my mid thoracic spine. 

All-in-all though, I can still feel the stretch with this.

Here’s how to do this one at home!


Step 1: Starting Position:

  • Begin seated in a chair with a supportive back.
  • Position your feet flat on the floor.
  • Make sure to sit with a nice, tall posture.

Step 2: The Stretch:

  • Wrap your arms around yourself as if giving yourself a big hug.
  • With your back pressed into the back of the chair, extend and arch the back.
  • This movement should feel as if you’re extending up and over the back of the chair.
  • Keep the neck neutral, avoiding hyperextension of it.
  • Hold this stretch for 5 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10x.


Tip: To advance this stretch, you can change the position of your arms. You can reach the arms up and back, moving them overhead, as you do this stretch for one option. Another option is to position the hands behind your head, pressing the elbows back as you stretch (think of it like you’re relaxing while lying in the sun).

Have fun with this one!

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About the Author Shelby

Shelby Green is a Florida-licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), currently practicing at St. Anthony’s Resource Center Outpatient Rehabilitation in St. Petersburg, FL. Shelby received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of South Florida, followed by her DPT from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Shelby has 6 years clinical experience practicing in both the acute care and outpatient rehab settings. Specialties include orthopedics, with additional training in specific manual therapy techniques for pain management, as well as extensive training as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

Shelby is a Tampa, FL native, which is where she and her husband currently reside. Their favorite activities include spending time with family and anything outdoors, such as walking, bike riding, and going to the beach.

Medical Disclaimer

This website is intended to provide educational information only and should not be taken as medical advice. The information shared on this website is based on research, but is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. We recommend that you consult your healthcare provider for any specific questions or concerns you may have. The website does not accept responsibility for any harm that may occur from using the information given on this site. Speak to your medical provider about any health issues!

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