With seemingly endless options on the internet for relieving upper back pain, it can be hard to know who to listen to. After all, for every professional taking to the internet to share his or her knowledge, there are a handful of other people sharing their own incomplete or inaccurate information.
When it comes to back pain, you don’t want to just take anyone’s word for it. Improper stretching and movements can increase your back pain and even cause further problems. That’s the last thing you want. Luckily, we went straight to the source for simple stretches to get rid of upper back pain (chiropractor approved).
Stretching Tips to Keep You Safe
Before you start performing the stretches below, take note of these important tips.
Stretching Should Never Hurt
Tension is normal in the muscles, particularly when you haven’t stretched them in a while. But stretching should never hurt. If it does, you should stop that stretch immediately.
Smooth and Fluid Motions
Many people new to stretching tend to make jerky or bouncing movements. Try to avoid doing either because they can put extra strain on your muscles. Instead, keep your movements smooth, and don’t push yourself too hard.
Stretch 1: Shoulder Blade Squeeze
Let’s start simple. This stretch can be done sitting or standing, but should always be done with the best posture you can muster.
- With your back straight, pull your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together like you’re trying to hold a coin between them at your back.
- Hold for a few seconds and then release, bringing your shoulders back to neutral.
- Repeat three or four times.
Do this throughout the day to relieve upper back pain and strengthen the muscles that promote good posture.
Stretch 2: Cat and Cow
- Start on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders, your knees under your hips, and your back neutral.
- Arch your spine up like you’re pushing toward the ceiling with your stomach and put your head down between your arms. Hold for a few seconds. This is the cat pose (I’m sure you can guess why).
- Bring your spine the other way, bringing your stomach toward the floor, while lifting your head up to look toward the ceiling (you don’t have to look at the ceiling, just toward it however far is comfortable). Hold for a few seconds. This is the cow pose.
- Repeat as many times as you want, but try taking a deep breath in on the cow pose and breathe it out on the cat pose.
This stretch is good for upper back pain relief. It’s also good for stress relief and a boost of energy.
Stretch 3: Corner (or Doorway) Stretch
Similar to the shoulder blade squeeze, the corner stretch is good for those who develop pain from sitting all day or those with poor posture.
- Face the corner of a room, close enough to put your forearms against the walls near where they meet. Your elbows should be just below shoulder height, your hands facing away from you.
- Brace your inner forearms against the walls and gently lean your upper body forward while maintaining a relaxed and neutral lower back. Allow your chest muscles to stretch and your shoulder blades to come together at your back. Stretch as far as is comfortable.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Repeat three times throughout the day.
This stretch can alternatively be done in a doorway. It’s also good for helping you maintain proper posture.
Stretch 4: Press-Up
This stretch is great for the upper and middle back areas. You’ll need a mat or a comfortable place to lay on your stomach.
- On your stomach, keep your hands under your shoulders.
- Raise your upper body off the floor while keeping your hands, elbows, hips, knees, and feet on the floor.
- Look ahead of you and take a deep breath, allowing your chest to expand. You should feel a stretch in the mid and upper back.
- Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Release and allow your upper body to gently move back to the floor.
- Repeat up to 10 times, increasing the length of the hold if you feel comfortable.
The back is an intricate collection of muscles, tendons, bones, and joints. As such, it can be hard to know exactly what is causing your pain unless you see a chiropractor or a physician. Most back pain will go away with stretching and the proper protocol, but if it doesn’t, it’s a good reason to go to the chiropractor.
About the Author:
Dr. Brent Wells founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998. He is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients in Anchorage, Alaska through physical therapy, chiropractic care, and massage therapy with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life.
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