SANTA CLARA, California, June 7. THIS week's Dryland Tip from Dr. G. John Mullen is the tennis ball thoracic spine. This exercise helps increase flexibility of the thoracic spine.
Purpose: The thoracic spine often lacks flexibility. When tight, stress exponentially increases at the low back and shoulders. In sprint freestyle, the shoulder driven stroke is dominant, causing rotation at the shoulders and thoracic spine, with stable hips. This exercise is a passive mobilization of the thoracic spine, with the goal of improving thoracic spine rotation.
Directions: Lie on your side and place a tennis ball (baseball is often recommended) under your back on the transverse processes (approximately two centimeters lateral of the spinous processes) of your thoracic spine. Give yourself a bear hug, grabbing your shoulder blades, then roll on and off the tennis ball ten times. Move the tennis ball to the next level and roll again. One should be able to roll on five to six places on each side of your thoracic spine.
G. John Mullen is the owner of the Center of Optimal Restoration and creator of Swimming Science. He received his doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal.