When suffering from upper back pain, it is usually the result of long-term bad posture or an injury that overwhelms the thoracic spine’s strength. The upper back is exceptionally resistant to damage and discomfort compared to the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine)

Upper back pain is a typical complaint, especially when people are anxious or slumped over. Stretching exercises for the neck, shoulders and upper back can help reduce discomfort and release muscles. It can be debilitating and interfere with regular activities. Consider stretching and strengthening the muscles that support your thoracic spine to help ease this discomfort (upper and mid back). 

This article includes numerous stretches that can help relieve upper back discomfort and recommendations for warming up to avoid injury. It also advises on when to consult a doctor.

Warming Up

Warm up before stretching or exercising to avoid injury and make any activity more effective. A typical warm-up consists of:

The Dynamic Stretching

These exercises take the joints and muscles through their whole range of motion. The dynamic stretches such as stated below may assist in relief and prevent upper back pain:

  • Trunk rotation
  • Overhead arm reach
  • Cat-cow pose
  • Knee to chest

Desk Exercises

These tasks are simple to carry out when sitting at a desk or in an office. 

  • Wall stretch
  • Neck flexion
  • Shoulder roll

Static Exercises

Static stretches are regulated, continuous motions held until a person has reached the limit of their range of motion.

  • Child’s pose
  • Thoracic extension

Exercises for the Upper Body

Several exercises can help relieve back, neck, and shoulder discomfort. Changing up the activities can assist preserve the range of motion and keep the routine from becoming monotonous. Exercises that may be beneficial include:

Segmental Flexion/Extension With A Peanut 

Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place the peanut (a tape of two tennis or lacrosse balls together) between your mid-back and the floor, directly below your rib cage. To support your head and neck, wrap a towel over your head and grasp one end in each hand. Begin in neutral alignment, then slowly drop your shoulders to the ground while inhaling. Exhale and raise with a little crunch, rounding the upper back. Repeat two to three times more slowly, then transfer the peanut to the next vertebra. Continue until you reach your neck’s base.

Iron Cross

Face up and roll a foam roller along your left side. Bend your right hip and knee to 90 degrees, cross it across your body, and place it on top of the roller. Exhale and drive your right shoulder blade into the ground, rotating your T-spine rather than expanding your chest. Hold for three to five seconds before releasing. Rep four times more, then swap sides.

Thread the Needle

Position yourself on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips, spine neutral. Keep your hips square as you stretch your right arm as far below you as possible, resting your right shoulder on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side. Perform one to two sets of four to five repetitions on each side.

T-Spine Talk

The big, bony protrusion at the base of your neck is the first of 12 thoracic vertebrae. This region forms a concave curve in the upper back, links your neck and lower back, supports your rib cage, and collaborates with your shoulder blades to offer upper body stability and coordination of complicated actions.

See our Massage Rx YouTube video to learn more about the best upper mobility training! We also offer the best lymphatic and Swedish massage in town!