Back pain can really put a damper on your day-to-day routine. Find out some common causes for upper and middle back pain and simple exercises that can help!
There are many causes of upper and middle back pain, and most of them are related to overuse or strain. Poor posture, overdoing it in the yard or lifting something too heavy for you can all put strain on your upper and middle back, causing injury and pain. For mild to moderate pain, these exercises can help give you some relief.
Related: 8 Simple Exercises for Lower Back Pain
As always, talk to a doctor if your pain is severe or doesn’t seem to be going away. If you have a serious injury, you may need to rest and recover before working on stretching and strengthening, and a physical therapist can be a big help. There are also rare cases where upper and middle back pain can signal something more serious, like gallbladder disease or even cancer, so definitely talk to a doctor if you’re in pain for more than a couple of weeks.
Even with muscle strain, back pain can impact different people differently. Don’t think of this list of exercises as a hard-and-fast routine. Instead, try these out, and cherry-pick the ones that work best for you. And if something hurts, back off or stop the exercise. You don’t want to make your pain worse!
1. Spinal Twist
Stretching those middle back muscles can be tricky, and a spinal twist is a great way to hit muscles that we don’t normally stretch. This is a simple, seated twist that most people can practice without problems. The key is to just push until you feel a nice pull in your muscles. If you feel any pain, back off a bit. You’ll be able to twist further with practice, but it takes time.
2. Cobra Pose
This is a gentle strengthening exercise for the upper and middle back. Just go as far as you can in this pose, and take care not to overdo it, especially if you have an injury. You’ll improve with time.
3. Revolved Triangle
This is a balancing posture, so if you have trouble with your balance, go slowly into revolved triangle. If you can swing this pose, though, it is a really great way to get into those middle and upper back muscles. Twists like this stretch and strengthen, so you can help your body heal while protecting yourself from future injury.
4. Wide Leg Forward Bend
Forward bending is great for your whole back body, from the bottoms of your feet all the way up to the top of your head. If you’re practicing forward bending to relieve back pain, pay extra attention to lengthening your spine as you move gently into this posture.
5. Standing Mid-Back Reach
This is a great middle back stretch that you can practice anywhere you like. You can do it seated at your desk, standing in line at the grocery store or while watching TV at home. It’s a nice, gentle stretch that anyone can practice.
6. Floor Middle and Upper Back Stretch
This is a gentle stretch that you can practice at home when you need some back pain relief. You’re using the power of gravity to stretch out those middle and upper back muscles. Just hang out and enjoy it!
7. Thread the Needle
This is another yoga pose that’s great for getting into those back muscles. The video above is for beginners. If you want to go further, check out this intermediate Thread the Needle video or this one for a more advanced practice.