Thoracic Spine Exercise Prescription

2 min read. Posted in Thoracic
Written by Dr Travis Pollen info

This blog is a shortened version of a review from the June 2020 issue of Physio Network and highlights a study on “Thoracic Spine Exercise Prescription in Sport”, reviewed by Travis Pollen.

STUDY: Clinical reasoning framework for thoracic spine exercise prescription in sport: a systematic review and narrative synthesis – Heneghan et al. March 2020


  • The thoracic spine is a critical component of the kinetic chain during sport. It serves as a link between the lumbar and cervical regions as well as the connection to the upper extremity
  • It also provides the majority of rotational range of motion through the trunk
  • The purpose of this systematic review was to create a collection of thoracic spine exercises for athletes and categorize the exercises based on the 4 intended adaptations



  • The authors searched several databases as well as social media for exercises that target the thoracic spine in adult athletes
  • Each exercise they identified was categorized in 1 of the 4 groups



  • The search resulted in 38 exercises
  • The overall level of evidence was of low quality as a result of being derived mostly from expert opinion




  • In addition to the usual databases like PubMed and Google Scholar, the authors expanded their search to social media, which is not considered a trustworthy source of evidence
  • However, the authors chose this strategy for 2 reasons:
    1. There is a lack of information on thoracic spine exercise prescription in the scientific literature
    2. Including social media may better represent the breadth of exercises that practitioners use in the field

It’s important to note that this exercise list is not exhaustive


Clinical implications

  • Proper function of the thoracic spine is important for overall spine and upper extremity performance, so this adaptation-based list of exercises may be a helpful resource to practitioners when prescribing exercises for patients
  • Given the limited scientific evidence, practitioners should be aware that the effectiveness of these exercises for rehabilitation is largely unknown

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