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Home > Stretches > Stability Ball Back Stretch

Stability Ball Back Stretch


  1. Lie face-down on a stability ball.
  2. Make sure your knees and ankles are on the ground.  Your knees should be as close to the ball as possible.
    • Variation: allow your knees to come up off the ground and put your whole body on top of the ball.  This will target your lower thoracic (low-mid back) instead of your upper thoracic (upper-middle back).  I have found this is a poorer quality stretch, however.
  3. Drape your torso over the top of the ball.
  4. Inhale as hard as you can and hold it for the duration of the stretch.
  5. Shrug your shoulders and push them forward as hard as you can.

stability ball back stretch


  1. You don’t have to squeeze the ball with your arms to get the stretch to work.
  2. Doing this with shoes on helps because you can tuck your toes under and get a lot of traction.  By aggressively draping yourself over the ball, the ball will have a tendency to push you backwards, away from it.  Tucking your toes will counteract this and improve the stretch.
  3. The firmer the ball, the better this stretch will work.  Cheapo K-Mart balls don’t work well because they are very thin rubber (I tried one).  Get one with thick rubber, like a Thera-band ball.  That’s what I have an am happy with it.
  4. The huge inhalation is key in stretching the structures in your back.

As far as I know, I invented this thoracic stretch (the shoulder aspect of it, not ball draping).  The structures it could possibly stretched with this thoracic stretch include the levators, lower trapezius, rhomboids, intercostals, multifidi (spinal stabilizers), and thoracic erectors (“paraspinals”).  Coincidentally, this stretch probably relieves pressure on the thoracic discs.  I know this thoracic stretch sounds like a waste of time, but it’s not---give it a chance; it feels great.  Even just lying on the ball without doing anything will gently stretch your thoracic spine, ribs, and surrounding musclulature.  The shoulder movement involved in this stretch is the contraction of the upper trapezius (shrugging) and the serratus anterior (moving shoulders forward), and a little anterior deltoid and pectoralis.

Last Updated: 8/16/2010
Originally Posted: 4/7/2008