The Arched Hang (do this daily!)

Improve Overhead Shoulder Mobility, Thoracic Kyphosis and Scap Strength

By Eric Wong

If you’re looking to crack your thoracic spine, this is one of my favourite techniques alongside bench extensions (like extensions over a foam roller, but over a harder/more square edge).

I do prefer this technique though because it’s active and the crack occurs because of muscular activation, not gravity.

Anytime I can get a result actively vs. passively, I prefer it because this provides neuromuscular benefits, not just joint manipulation.

That’s why I love the Arched Hang, because in addition to cracking your t-spine, you also get these benefits:

  • Activation/strengthening of thoracic extensors and scapular retractors
  • Development of scapular control
  • Stretching of the abdominals and hip flexors
  • Grip strength and joint decompression (hanging always does this)

When you first start this technique, warmup by doing some passive hangs, then do some active hangs, and if you’re more advanced add some hanging scap circles and brachiating.

I always like to take a couple of deep 360° breaths when doing hangs to increase the stretch via ribcage expansion, so practice this too.

Then you’ll be ready to get into the technique and do a couple of reps getting into and out of the position smoothly and slowly, before going for longer holds.

When you do this technique, think of maintaining good alignment and creating a smooth arch in your spine from head to tail.

Remember to take deep 360° breaths when you’re holding the position for maximum effect. Hold anywhere from 5-30 sec – whatever you’re capable of.

A good little workout is to do holds every minute on the minute for a set # of minutes i.e. 5 minutes. If you do this, at first your holds will be longer and they’ll decrease with every rep you do.

And always enter and exit the technique smoothly as opposed to trying to hold as long as possible then crumpling to the floor because your grip or something else fails you.

About the Author

Eric is the founder of PrecisionMovement.coach and has a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo. He's been a coach since 2005 and spent many years focused on training combat athletes including multiple UFC fighters and professional boxers and now dedicates his energy to helping people eliminate pain and flexibility and movement restrictions. He lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter and he drinks black coffee and bitter IPAs. Click here to learn more about Eric.