Sufficient flexibility and mobility of the thoracic spine is essential for a huge amount of movements that we are required to perform at CrossFit including the Olympic lifts, overhead squats and pressing movements like the strict press and jerk.
Thoracic stiffness is something I have seen a lot of around the box, and this can be due to a variety of different factors. It is commonly associated with lifestyle factors, such as the lack of use of our posterior chains due to office jobs and looking at our phones/laptops constantly. The inability to hold a stable overhead position can commonly be traced back to this lack of thoracic mobility (when sufficient dorsiflexion has been determined), especially in the decent of the overhead squat. This is apparent as the bar tips forward over the centre of gravity during the decent as the athlete loses the ability to maintain an upright torso position.
If you believe this is an issue that you have been having, taking the time to mobilise your thoracic spine can be of great value to your athletic ability.
An effective trio of exercises that I swear by are T-Spine rotations, foam rolling and windmills with a broomstick which are demonstrated in the video below. I’d recommend three rounds of ten T-Spine rotations, five on each side, as well as at least two minutes of foam rolling of the thoracic and holding in positions of tightness, then three rounds of ten windmills with a broomstick. How regularly these exercises are performed depends on the individual, but please shoot me a message if you have any questions. Happy mobilising!