5 Reasons to Train Thoracic Extension

We recently introduced the Perfect Pull-up into the new 6-week phase of training in the Fluxio & Upper body class and with PT clients for whom it was appropriate.  As a group the instructors agreed that the community could benefit from more of both thoracic extension and scapular retraction work, so the Perfect Pull-up was a natural fit.  After spending large portions of the last two phases on hollow body pull-ups we also thought everyone could benefit from some variety.  

So this begs the question; what are the benefits of training thoracic extension?

  1. Improving posture from long hours spent working behind a desk.  Lots of ripple effects here…

  2. Increased performance & Injury prevention - Better thoracic posture and mobility makes you stronger and safer during intense strength and conditioning, specifically with deadlifting, squat variations and KB work.    

  3. Improve breathing -  by improving thoracic posture you also allow the rib cage more freedom of movement so it can expand more when you inhale.  When you can take deeper breaths you take in more oxygen which not only improves conditioning and recovery within your workouts, but also saturates your brain and muscle tissue with more oxygen throughout the day so you’re more focused for longer periods of time and so you recover better between workouts.  

  4. To spare the lower back - When your thoracic spine is locked up and immobile your body will recruit your lower back to do what the thoracic spine should be doing.  For example, the thoracic spine is meant to rotate 35° while the lumbar only 12°, but when the thoracic is locked up your body will make the lumbar do more than it’s designed to do which can create sheering and stress that leads to degeneration and pain.

  5. Improve head position and spare your neck all that additional lifting - Ideally the ear canal should be aligned with the midline of your torso.  For every inch your head juts forward its weight increases by 10 lbs for the muscles of your neck and upper back.  For those of you with big domes it might be more like 12 to 15 lbs (you know who you are, we love you and we’re trying to help).

Clearly there are ample reasons to train scapular retraction, especially if you spend lots of time sitting behind a desk every day. And, I didn’t even cover the ripple effect benefits to shoulder health here because I want to do that in a separate blog that I’m going to write through the context of the discussion of doing Arch body pull-ups (aka “perfect pull-ups”) versus traditional hollow body pull-ups.

Be Strong, Move Beautifully,