Through daily activities such as working at a computer, exercising or playing sports, your upper back muscles can tighten and movement in the area can become difficult. Just as it is important to keep your lower back limber, it is also important to give attention to your upper back to remain pain-free. Performing upper back stretches regularly will help your posture and keep your upper back ready for anything life has to offer.
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The Butterfly Stretch
Gently stretching out your upper back muscles in controlled movements will help ease your discomfort or help prevent it from happening in the first place. For the butterfly stretch, sit or stand comfortably and place the fingertips of each hand on the shoulders of the same side, with your palms down. Keep your hands in place on your shoulders and bring your elbows in toward the middle until you feel a stretch in your upper back. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the start and repeat.
The Egyptian Back Stretch
The Egyptian stretch looks like a bit of a tangled mess, but it stretches your upper back effectively. Standing tall with your back straight, bring your left hand vertically in front of your face, with your pinky facing out. Reach underneath your left elbow with your right arm, then reach up and grab onto your left thumb. Lift both hands toward the ceiling and feel the stretch between your shoulders. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch your arms and repeat. This stretch may be difficult if you don't have much upper body flexibility.
Toes Over Your Head
Most people have seen the toes over the head stretch, and may have even tried it in gym class at one time or another. Sit on the floor, on a mat if possible. Roll your body backwards, so your legs swing right over your head. Place your toes on the floor behind your head while holding your lower back with your hands. Relax your body and feel the stretch in your upper back. If you can't reach your toes to the floor, just place them as far back as you can.
Rounded Back Stretch
Rounding your upper back is a good way to stretch out tight muscles. Sitting on a chair, extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing out, and clasp your hands together. Round your upper back, drop your chin to your chest, and reach forward as far as you can.
Simply moving your shoulders up and down can loosen up tired and stiff upper back muscles. Sit or stand and shrug your shoulders up toward your ears, hold for a few seconds, then return to the start. Repeat as many times as you like.