Guest Post by Chris Carlsen

Today I will be hosting my first guest blog by a very smart man, Chris Carlsen.  Chris is so smart, in fact e=mc^2 was his idea.  Okay, maybe I am embellishing just a bit, but he is intelligent and you should listen to what he hast to say.  Chris has mentored not just me, but the entire training staff at the Matrix Fitness Club to become giant meat heads, that produce meat heads out of sheer awesomeness.

This post is from Chris’ new blog, it is all about thoracic spine mobility.  It is a perfect segue to follow up my foam roller articles.  Make sure you check out the upper body edition.


Let’s keep things simple . The spine has three parts. The cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae. The only part that is made to move (flex and extend ) is the thoracics. The lumber spine is stabilized (prevents movement) by the core musculature and hips while the cervical is stabilized by our scapular and neck muscles. The point is, when the thoracic cannot extend we get movement from other parts of the spine that are not supposed to move. Now think of posture when sitting. HUNCHED over a desk, the thoracic is flexed all day. If we go the gym and do not get thoracic extension back before we lift , we will compromise. Poor thoracic extension leads to poor scapular positioning. This will lead to stiffness, strength loss, and injuries

The body is a chain. Good glute , core and scapular strength will go along way in preventing lower back pain. Having poor thoracic extension will inhibit the function of these three working together as a unit. Lets try this.  Stand up with the feet a little wider then shoulder length. Now tighten your shins (pretend your leg is a pole that is driving into the dirt) ,squeeze your glutes, brace your stomach (feel ribs gets tight ) and extend your thoracic spine with blades back and down.. Notice how upright , strong and powerful you feel (it”s a standing plank). Thoracic extension is not the cure for everything but it is the missing link in most people’s training and increases function of surrounding muscles and joints.

Here are some thoracic movements.

About Chris Carlsen

Chris Carlsen is the Fitness Manager and head Personal Trainer at the Matrix Fitness Club, located in Astoria, New York. He is a former Division 1 athlete, and is a certified personal trainer through the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). In addition, he holds specialized certifications in fitness therapy and kettlebell instruction from Jeff Martone (RKC) through Crossfit.

Chris started working at the Matrix in 2007, and it was not long before the facility’s owner recognized his immense talent. After only a few short months, he was promoted to Fitness Manager, and took it upon himself to hire and indoctrinate each new trainer into the functional training philosophy. With his staff, Chris sought to offer the residents of Astoria a style of training that was previously unfamiliar, but which has since become the norm at Matrix Fitness Club, establishing it as the go-to gym for results. Moreover, through hard work and perseverance, Chris and his team managed to make personal training commonplace for many gym members, whereas it had previously been viewed as an unaffordable luxury.

Was this post helpful, enlightening, the purest, greatest thing you ever read? Has Chris inspired you?  Let me know; leave a comment below!

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