24 gifts – day 7: How an exercise about releasing the upper thorax can become an abdominal exercise also

Release upper thorax

How an exercise about releasing the upper thorax can become an abdominal exercise also

Do you have exercises which on the surface look straightforward, and then when you do the exercise you discover a wonderful side effect?

For me, today’s exercise is such an exercise. Secretly, I call  it “the sneaky curl-up”. It starts out nicely with some release in the upper thorax on 2 Franklin Balls (or similar balls) and when you are done you wonder how the abs all of a sudden got so involved.

It has to do with where you place the balls on your scapula – the inferior angle.


What is the exercise about?

  • This exercise is about releasing tension in the upper thorax and mobilising the ribbasket.
  • You might also find that it releases tension in the lower back.
  • You activate the abdominals in a way you didn’t quite expect you would.


What do I like about it?

  • I like small series where you start with one movement direction, then you add another one and then you combine them.
  • To me it is a nice and flowing exercise where you flow from one movement direction to the next.
  • You have the release aspect because you use the balls to massage your myofascia in your upper thorax.
  • You increase proprioception in your upper thorax.
  • You have built in – or as I like to call it: You get for free – some abdominal activation.
  • The exercise can easily be transformed into a more abdominal work in a curled up position. Or if you have advanced clients you can challenge rectus abdominis even further by not curling up and instead stay in a more back bend position (it will make sense once you see the exercise, though I will not show this advanced version).


What prop do you need?

2 orange Franklin Balls – or some other balls similar in size and texture.


Where to place the prop

Around the inferior angle of your scapula.


Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

  • English title: “Achieving efficient movement – how to combine pilates with myofascial release”
  • Danish title “Pilates and Fascia – sådan kombinerer du pilatesøvelser med fascia release”


And here is the video …

Video length: 3:53 minutes


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