How To Relieve Upper Back Pain Through Exercise

Upper back pain is less common than lower back or neck pain and often occurs as a result of a sudden injury or trauma. Upper back pain can also be caused by poor posture and is a familiar complaint from people who work with computers.

The upper back is the region below the neck and above the low back. The upper back is also known as the thoracic spine and it is the most stable part of the spine. The common symptoms of upper back pain include stiffness, tightness, tenderness to touch, muscle spasm, headache, and terrible pain. Even though in most cases, upper back pain is not a cause for worry, it can be very painful and uncomfortable.

Upper Back Pain

Luckily there are several exercises that can help relieve the pain and stiffness in the upper back.

Arm Slides

This is undoubtedly one of the most effective exercises for upper back pain. For this exercise, you will have to stand against a wall with your arms pressed back against the wall. Keep your wrists and elbows against the wall and slowly slide your arms up as high as you can. Gently move your arms down, relax and repeat 10 times.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

The shoulder blade squeeze is simple, but very effective when it comes to relieving upper back pain. Stand or sit with your arms by your sides and then squeeze and hold your shoulder blades together for at least 5 seconds. Then, release the squeeze, relax and repeat 10 times.


For this exercise, you need to place your palms down on your shoulders. Keep your hands in place and bring your elbows together until you feel a good stretch in your upper back. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then return to the original position. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Arm Reach

Get on your knees and hands, with your neck parallel to the ground. Lift one hand and stretch the arm out in front of you, parallel to the ground. While doing this, be careful not to raise your head. Hold this position for 5 seconds, return your hand to the ground and repeat 10 times. Then switch to your other arm and repeat.

Thoracic Stretch

Sit on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you. Then hold your mid-thighs with your hands and curl your head and neck towards your belly button. Hold for a count of 15 and repeat this exercise 5 times.

Shoulder Roll

Roll your shoulders slowly forward, making large circles. Then reduce to smaller circles and reverse direction. Repeat this simple exercise 10 times.

Upper Back Stretch

For this exercise, sit in a chair and cross your arms behind your head. Then bend gently forward and slowly arch backward. Release and repeat 10 times.

Mid-trap Exercise

For this exercise, you will have to lie on your stomach and place a folded pillow underneath your chest. Then put your arms out straight to your sides with your elbows straight and thumbs towards the ceiling. Slowly raise your arms towards the ceiling and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Lower slowly and do 3 sets of 15.


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