Upper Back Pain Exercises

Upper back pain can be caused by bad posture, injury and stress.  Exercises for upper back pain are really stretches. Good posture is necessary for performing the stretches correctly. If you don’t know if you have good posture, your doctor or physical therapist can help you. To stand with good posture your back should be straight with a natural S curve. Your hips and shoulders should be in line with each other. Your head should be centered between your shoulders both side to side and back to front. Many people jut their head in front of their body. Pull the head back into the correct position. The chin should be parallel to the floor. Don’t tip the head back or tuck the chin into the chest. The arms should rest at your sides. Shoulders should be down and back. Feet should be under the hips about hip distance apart. This posture is the neutral position for the following exercises to relieve upper back pain.

Chin Tuck

The chin tuck stretches the muscles in the neck and shoulder area. Starting in the neutral position, imagine that a string is tied to the bottom of your chin. Slowly pull down on the string, allowing the chin to move towards your chest. Don’t let your head jut forward like a chicken. Keep your head centered between your shoulders. Hold stretch for 5 seconds and then return head to neutral position. Repeat 5-10 times, several times a day to relieve tension and stress in the upper back.

Cervical Spinal Flexion

Start in neutral position. Slowly roll head forward on the neck, tucking chin in towards the chest. Gently let the head fall forward until you feel the stretch in your upper back, between the shoulder blades. Hold for 5 seconds and return to neutral position. Repeat 5-10 times.

Lateral Flexion

Start in the neutral position. Tilt the head on the neck to the right, dropping your ear towards your shoulder. Stop if it becomes painful. Hold stretch for 5 seconds. Do not hunch or raise your shoulders. Return head to neutral position and then repeat on the left side. Do 5-10 sets several times a day.

Shoulder Squeeze

Start in the neutral position. Shoulders should be back and down. Inhale through the nose while squeezing shoulders back toward the spine and hold 5 seconds. As you exhale through your mouth roll shoulders forward, clasping hands and squeezing. Hold 5 seconds and then return to the neutral position. Repeat 5-10 times a couple times a day. Remember to keep head centered with the body. Don’t allow head to jut forward or down. Chin should remain parallel to the floor. This stretch works on the muscles in the shoulders, upper and mid back.

A physical therapist is a great asset in developing a stretching and exercise or strengthening routine. They can teach you to correctly perform the exercises to relieve and prevent upper back pain. Staying active and practicing a stretching or exercise routine on a regular basis, has shown to be effective in reducing the pain level and frequency of upper back pain episodes. People suffering from chronic pain found vast improvement in their pain management success rate when maintaining a stretching and exercise routine.

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