How to Relieve Upper Back Pain with Exercise

Upper back pain can occur as a result of injury, strain or poor posture. According to Spine-Health.com, most cases of upper back pain stem from muscle irritation or joint issues. As more people sit hunched over computers for work, more suffer from upper back pain and stiffness. Sleeping in an uncomfortable position or uncomfortable bed can also lead to upper back pain. Gentle stretching exercises can help relieve the pain and stiffness.

Rear view of woman holding towel in loft gym
Relieve upper back pain with stretches. (Image: Central IT Alliance/iStock/Getty Images)

Wall Stretch

Step 1

Face a wall, standing approximately 2 feet away.

Step 2

Place the palms of your hands flat on the wall, shoulder-width apart.

Step 3

Walk your hands down the wall until they are in line with your waist and your back is straight. If necessary, take a small step backward or forward to bring your body to a 90-degree angle.

Step 4

Roll your shoulders back and allow your back to sway slightly until you feel the stretch in your upper back. Keep your neck straight. Do not allow your head to hang down.

Step 5

Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to one minute. Walk your hands up the wall and come back to a standing position.

Seated Stretch

Step 1

Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet on the floor. Roll your shoulders back and your shoulder blades down.

Step 2

Place your hands on your shoulders with your palms down and elbows out to the sides.

Step 3

Bring your elbows together in front of you, keeping your hands in place, until you feel the stretch in your upper back. Hold for five deep breaths.

Step 4

Return your elbows to the sides. Repeat the stretch 10 to 15 times.

Yoga Strap Stretch

Step 1

Sit in a chair with your back straight. Roll your shoulders back and down.

Step 2

Hold a yoga strap or belt in your hands with your palms facing out.

Step 3

Raise your arms overhead with your elbows straight. If you cannot straighten your arms, widen your grip on the strap or belt until you can.

Step 4

Lower your chin to your chest, holding the strap taut.

Step 5

Hold for five or six deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.

Step 6

Lower your arms again. Repeat the stretch as many times as needed.

Warning

If your back pain persists for more than a few days, gets worse or occurs immediately following traumatic injury, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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