Pain in your upper back, your thoracic spine area, can prevent you from taking a deep breath. If you sit leaned forward for long periods of time or do a lot of lifting, you are at risk for pain in this area, which is located between your neck and your lower back. Problems with your thoracic spine can include numbness, loss of movement in your torso or pain in your ribs. Thoracic spine problems also can extend down to your lower back in some instances. Thoracic back exercises can help correct or prevent upper back pain. Always check with your physician before beginning an exercise program.
The back arch manipulates the scapula bones, or shoulder blades, to stretch the muscles. To begin, lie on your stomach with your face lightly touching the floor. Place your hands at your sides with your palms facing upward. Slowly raise your shoulder blades back to lift your chest off the ground, creating a curve with your body. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then lower to the ground. Repeat five times.
Perform the cat exercise on the floor on your hands and knees. Begin with your back straight. Slowly round your torso up, creating a C-curve with your body -- similar to the position a cat makes when stretching. Imagine your belly button is going up toward the ceiling as you feel the stretch down the length of your spine. Your head can be tucked into your chest or looking upward to also stretch your cervical spine. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, then release. Repeat three times.
Relieve tension in your thoracic spine with the seal movement. Lie on your stomach with your head resting on your crossed arms. Slowly lift your upper body to twist to your left side. Place both hands on the floor, feeling the stretch in your thoracic spine. Do not lift your body so high that it causes pain when you stretch. Slowly lower your body to return to the starting position. Repeat by twisting your body to the right side. Repeat two additional times on each side.
This exercise uses a broom or other strong stick to deepen the thoracic spine stretch. Grasp a broom handle or wooden dowel behind your back, with your palms facing forward. Rest the broom on your upper shoulders, just below your neck. Maintain this position as you slowly twist to your left side. Hold the twist for five to 10 seconds, then release and repeat on your right side. Twist in each direction two times to complete the exercise.