Best Upper Back Pain Exercises That Works

Not paying attention to the importance of exercises for upper back pain, the increasing use of computers and sitting in front of the desk for hours, leads to chronic pain in the back.

With the modern lifestyle that force us to sit in front of TV, Computer and desk job, it becomes very difficult to avoid these nagging back pain.

We never pay attention to our poor posture and gravity plays its role.

Then our shoulder starts to roll forward constricting the chest and making our upper back rounded.

In such cases, muscles of shoulder, neck and pectoralis becomes weak and chronic tension builds up in the back.

To combat this tension and strengthen the muscles we must improve our posture along with some regular upper back muscles exercise.


How to Stretch Your Upper Back

Stretching upper back muscles can help us relieve soreness and dull aching pain build up by our poor posture.

There are several exercises that you can do to help upper back muscles to get rid of their stiffness.

Scapular squeeze, pectoralis stretch and thoracic extension are few to name, find below the most important  exercises that can help you –

Pectoralis Stretch

Also know as PEC Stretch, is designed for pectoralis muscles.

To perform Pec stretches, find yourself an open door or a wall corner & stand to keep both of your hands slightly above the head level.

Once the hand rests perfectly on the wall, gently lean forward to stretch pectoralis major muscle.

You can hold this position for 20 to 60 seconds. Complete 3 repetitions.

Thoracic Extension

This can be done achieved by many ways.

Many people often use foam roller or chair to complete thoracic extensions.

1. Using chair – Sit in an upright position  in a low back chair. Clasp fingers of both hand behind your head & bring both elbows towards each other. Now, slowly bend backward over the chair to arch upper back muscles.

Repeat this for 8 to 10 times.

2. Foam Roller Extensions – Lie down on a foam roller keeping it below the upper back. Clasp the both hand behind your head and slowly roll your back over the foam roller.

Repeat this exercise for 8 to 10 times a day.

Arm Slides

An exercise that can be done by firmly sitting or standing with back against the wall.

Also, rest your wrists & elbows against the wall. Now, gently slide the both arms upward keeping the contact between wrist, elbow and wall intact.

Repeat for 8 to 10 times and complete 2 sets a day.

Scapular squeeze

Sit comfortably on yoga mat keeping your back erect.

Keep both arms by the side of your body and slowly squeeze both shoulder blades together, holding in position for 5 to 10 seconds.

Repeat this exercise for 10 times & complete 2 sets a day.

Mid-Trap Exercise

Lie down on a yoga mat keeping a pillow below your chest.

Keep both arms out and straight with thumbs pointing to the ceiling. Slowly start to raise the both arms from the ground toward the ceiling, resulting your shoulder blades to come together.

Hold the raised arms in the same position for few seconds and lower slowly.

Repeat this exercise for 10 times with 2 sets a day.

As days progress and it becomes easier to complete this exercise, start holding small objects of the same weight in both hands.

Thoracic stretch

Sit on the firm floor keeping your both legs straight in front of you. Keep your back erect. Using both hands holds the both thighs at mid-point. Now curl your neck & head slowly towards thigh (bend forward). Hold for 8 to 10 seconds and repeat 4 times.

Quadruped arm & leg raise

Get in the position by going down on knees & hands. Keep your spin in a steady position and raise one arm at a time. Then raise one leg at a time.

Once you finish raising one extremity at a time, slowly raise one arm and opposite leg simultaneously.

Hold this for 5 to 8 seconds and then lower them slowly & repeat with another side.

While doing this exercise make sure that you kept your abdominal muscles tight, hip & spine steady. Repeat this exercise for 8 to 10 times for both sides.

Hope these exercise will help you to strengthen back muscles as well as will provide some relief from the pain.

References +

1. Yoo, W. (2013). Effect of Thoracic Stretching, Thoracic Extension Exercise and Exercises for Cervical and Scapular Posture on Thoracic Kyphosis Angle and Upper Thoracic Pain. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 25(11), 1509–1510.
2. Back exercises in 15 minutes a day. Mayo Clinic

Dr. Sachin

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