You’re sitting at your desk, hunched over a computer, and scrolling through Facebook. Suddenly, when you go to stretch, your upper back starts hurting. Was it because you worked out a few nights ago or is it from bad posture? According to the University of Michigan, “In most cases, upper and middle back pain is caused by overuse, muscle strain, or injury to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support your spine. Poor posture. Myofascial pain that affects the connective tissue of a muscle or group of muscles.”
Below are a few exercises that you can do at home to relieve upper back pain.
What you’ll need: a chair
Step 1. Sit in a chair and clasp both arms behind your head.
Step 2. Gently arch backward and look up toward the ceiling.
Repeat 10 times. Do this several times each day.
What you’ll need: the floor, pillow, small weights (when the exercise is too easy)
Step 1. Lie on your stomach on a firm surface and place a folded pillow underneath your chest.
Step 2. Place your arms out straight to your sides with your elbows straight and thumbs toward the ceiling.
Step 3. Slowly raise your arms toward the ceiling as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Lower slowly.
Do 3 sets of 15.
What you’ll need: immovable object (like a door), resistance band, and a chair
Step 1. Close the middle of elastic tubing in a door or wrap tubing around an immovable object.
Step 2. Hold 1 end in each hand. Sit in a chair, bend your arms 90 degrees, and hold one end of the tubing in each hand.
Step 3. Keep your forearms vertical and your elbows at shoulder level and bent 90 degrees.
Step 4. Pull backward on the band and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Do 2 sets of 15.
What you’ll need: Your body
Step 1. Cross one arm across your body, then pull the elbow of your outstretched arm toward your chest.
Step 2. Hold the stretch for ten seconds.
Step 3. Release, and repeat on the other arm.
Behind the back
What you’ll need: just your body!
Step 1. Place your left hand behind your back, with the back of your hand on your waist or belt.
Step 2. Using your right hand, reach back around your waist and pull on your left hand, lifting it up toward your right armpit.
Step 3. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then release.
Repeat 10 times, then switch sides and repeat another 10 times.
What you’ll need: just your body
Step 1. While sitting upright, lift your arms up into a goalpost position with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle even with your shoulders.
Step 2. Relax your shoulders down, and then pull the elbows towards the back of the room.
Step 3. Imagine that you’re squeezing a marble in between your shoulder blades as you work the upper back.
Release. Repeat 10 times
Arm slide on the wall:
What you will need: a wall
Step 1. Sit or stand with your back against a wall and your elbows and wrists against the wall.
Step 2. Slowly slide your arms upward as high as you can while keeping your elbows and wrists against the wall.
Do 2 sets of 8 to 12.