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  • Writer's pictureKeep It Moving PT & Wellness

Week 31: Isolated Thoracic Rotation in Mini Hip Hinge

Updated: May 19

For the month of January, we have selected exercises to keep you strong and agile on the pickleball court throughout the entire winter 🥒🎾

Exercise: Isolated Thoracic Rotation in Mini Hip Hinge

Purpose: To isolate rotation of the thoracic spine and ribcage while keeping the rest of the spine stable and still

What It Targets: Controlled mobility of the Serratus Anterior, Intercostals, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major and Minor, Internal Obliques, External Obliques, Transverse Abdominis


  1. Stand with your feet hips width apart and hinge slightly at your hips, taking a slight bow with your spine. Cross your hands over opposite shoulders.

  2. Pick a spot on the floor ahead of you and maintain your gaze the entire time. 

  3. Rotate your upper trunk to the left, initiating the movement from your left trunk and shoulder blade. Your pelvis and head should not move at all.

  4. Pause at end range, feeling muscle activation in the left sides of your trunk and shoulder blade, and right abdomen.

  5. Return to center

  6. Repeat on the other side - rotate your upper trunk to the right while initiating the movement from your right trunk and shoulder blade. Your pelvis and head should not move at all.

  7. Repeat as prescribed.

Main Cues:

  • Rotate only your upper trunk 

  • Keep your pelvis and head still the entire time

  • Initiate the movement with the side of the trunk that is moving, as well as the abdomen

  • You should primarily feel muscle activation in the sides of your trunk, shoulder blade and core

Common Compensations/Adverse Effects:

  • Tensing of the shoulders and neck

Correction: Make conscious effort to relax your neck and shoulders and initiate motion from the middle trunk and scapulae; Exhale calmly as you rotate to allow your ribcage to drop down and in, and away from your neck and shoulders

  • Mid back pain

Correction: Be sure to load the hinge with a straight spine, do not bend the spine forward, rotate or arch your back throughout the motion; Decrease the range of motion to a comfortable one

  • Sidebending and extension of the trunk rather than pure rotation

Correction: Focus on the spot in front of you and think about bringing one shoulder towards that spot and you bring the other one away by initiating with your opposite shoulder blade. Repeat until the motion becomes more controllable. Practice makes better!

Why We Love It:

  • This trunk focused rotational movement ensures adequate mobility of the thoracic spine so the lumbar spine (low back) and shoulder are not overworked or strained (a prerequisite for safe pickleball mechanics)

  • Sets a strong foundation for being able to initiate and isolate trunk rotation via thoracic spine and ribcage rotation in the transverse plane

  • It trains the ability to focus your gaze ahead while the hips and pelvis move below you, which is crucial on the pickleball court (especially when serving)

  • It sharpens fine motor control of the trunk and ribcage providing more options and movement strategies which protects the lumbar spine and shoulder

*Disclaimer: Not all exercises are suitable for everyone, and participation in novel activities may increase the risk of adverse effects such as pain, soreness, or injury. Please consult with your Physician or a local Physical Therapist prior to attempting any exercise you feel uncomfortable performing. If adverse reactions occur, discontinue performance of the exercise and consult your physician or trusted clinician for evaluation.

Keep It Moving Physical Therapy & Wellness

56 Middlesex Turnpike

Suite 200 (Inside Muscle Mind Movement)

Burlington, MA 01803

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