When it comes to back pain, discomfort in the lower back tends to be the most common complaint. But back pain can be just as uncomfortable and persistent.
Upper back pain can be the result of tension, especially in the larger muscles, such as the latissimus dorsi and trapezius, but also in the smaller muscles such as the infraspinatus and multifidus that connect to the shoulders and spine. This can be caused by stress, bad posture, or even sleeping poorly.
Upper right back stretches can help relieve tension in all of these areas and prevent pain from creeping in.
As you perform each stretch, slowly inhale and exhale for three breaths. You can run them once a day or pick your favorites and rotate them a few times a day. (I recommend doing these first thing in the morning or taking a 5-minute break during the workday to do a few.)
Downward facing dog
Start in a plank position with shoulders over wrists. Pull your navel towards your spine and reach your butt towards the ceiling. Form a V with your body with your heels going down towards the ground. (It’s okay if they’re off the ground.) Press down between your toes and fingers to stretch your legs and underarms. Bend one knee and then the other. Hold the stretch for 3 breaths.
Modified Downward Facing Dog
Place your palms on the wall in front of you. She pushes her feet away from the wall and bends her knees slightly. Keep your back in line with your palms so your upper body forms a straight line. Engage your core to keep your spine straight. Hold the position for 3 slow breaths.
Kneel on the floor so your shins and tops of your feet are on the floor. Bend at the hips, moving your hands forward and your butt back. Move your hands in front of you until your stomach rests on your thighs and your arms are extended in front of you, palms on the floor. Hold the position for 3 deep breaths.
Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. He inhales as you lift your head towards the ceiling. Arch your back as you inhale, moving your stomach towards the ground. Exhale as you pull your chin into your chest and push your abs in so your back arches toward the ceiling. Continue alternating back and forth 10 times.
Thread the needle
Begin in a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. He lifts his right hand off the ground, following it with his gaze, as you tuck it under his left arm. He rests his head gently on the ground, looking down at your hand. Hold the position for 3 breaths and then switch sides.
Elasticated shoulder strap
In a standing position, extend your left arm across your chest to the right side of the room. Use your right arm to bring your left arm closer to your body for a deeper stretch. Hold the position for 3 breaths. Repeat on the other arm.
Chin to chest stretch
Place your hands behind your head and gently push your head forward and down so that your chin reaches your chest. Feel a stretch behind your upper back and neck. Hold the position for 2-4 breaths and then release.
Standing lateral reach
Standing with feet together, raise right arm in the air. Keep your left arm at your side or on your side. Bend at the waist to your left so you feel a stretch in the right side of your waist. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand straight with feet together. Lean forward at the hips and bring your chest towards your knees. Reach your fingertips towards your toes (or your knees or shins, depending on your flexibility). Hold the position for at least 10 seconds.
While this is more of a strengthening exercise than a stretch, upper back pain can also come from weak muscles. So the cobra is part stretch, part strength, which is why we included it here. To start, place your hands along your chest and nudge an imaginary marble forward with your nose to lift your head, neck and chest. Press firmly into your hands and hug your elbows towards your sides. Pull your navel towards your spine and press your thighs to the floor. Bring your shoulders back and lift your chin. Take a deep breath and then rest.
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