Upper Back Exercises and Stretching

Upper back pain is no simple matter. It’s painful, irritating and often debilitating for sufferers. For most sufferers, the pain does not come and go, but rather persists over days, weeks and months, damaging the back and altering the person’s life. Upper back pain not only slows a person, but keeps them from doing everyday activities both at work and in their personal lives.

Many people simply accept the pain as caused by an injury or just a part of life. That does not have to be the case. A set of therapeutic stretching can relieve or even eradicate upper back pain.

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Cause and solution

Poor neck posture is a primary cause of upper back pain. Posture-oriented exercise should be the focus of a regimen to target upper back pain.

Stretching is the most effective relief for several reasons:

  • Expands flexibility, creating a natural range of motion
  • Spreads nutrients to muscles, loosening them
  • Minimizes risk of injury

Since most upper back pain is neck related, exercising the neck instead of the back actually relieves the upper back pain. Neck exercises relieve the strain experienced by muscles that have been weakened by too much tension. A variety of circular motions of the neck and hunches back and forth can loosen the taut muscles, easing strain and pain.

Desk jobs are a leading cause of neck-related upper back pain. A common exercise related to neck pain experienced at desk jobs is one where a person sits on their toes and bends forward. The person bends their upper body forward slowly until their fingers touch the floor. The person should extend their neck upward, while arching their back down. The exercise stretches the neck, the shoulder blades and the upper back. Much of back pain is connected to the shoulder blades. These exercises should be held for between 10 seconds and less than 30 seconds to give the full effect.

An exceptionally effective stretch is actually something people do in their beds most mornings without knowing. A person lies on their back and stretches their arms over the head. This stretch relieves taut muscles, especially when a pillow is used to support the back.

“Alternative” solutions

Upper back pain has afflicted people for centuries. To that end, Chinese teachers and Tai Chi programs contain exercises that alleviate stress in the upper back

In a standing position, a person should lock their fingers behind their back. While slowly breathing, the person should meet elbows and extend their head forward. The exercise relieves tension in the upper spine, back and muscles.

A similar stretch has a person set up their arms exactly the same behind their back, but instead the move their elbows back and forth for several minutes. The exercise has the same effect. The exercise is great to do at a desk in between extended typing sessions.

Tai Chi experts recommend an exercise that uses shoulder muscles. A person sits at attention with their shoulders dropped along their sides. That person then uses the muscles in the shoulder to elevate the shoulders and roll them forward in repetitions of 10-20 times.

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Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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