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2 Best Stretching Exercises to Relieve Upper Back Bain and Improve Strength and Mobility

2 Best Stretching Exercises to Relieve Upper Back Bain and Improve Strength and Mobility

Dr. Michael Derry, DPT, PT, OCS Jacksonville, Florida
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Upper back pain is more common than you might think! Many people find themselves sitting at a desk from 9 to 5 everyday with the same posture and no movement! I always focus on improving my patients strength and mobility in this area. Let me tell you my 1-2 punch for getting rid of upper back pain and stiffness once and for all!

What Causes Tight Upper Back Pain?

Most of the time, upper back pain is caused from sitting for prolonged periods of time. Some people think it may be related to arthritis or disc issues but that's often not the case.

Our bodies are meant to move and those who work at a desk all day for example, tend to experience more upper back pain than others. Another reason we have upper back pain is because we are not taking the necessary steps to combat this pain! And what I mean by that is we are not doing the exercises that we should be doing to help our upper back become stronger and more mobile.

If you are someone who needs to be able to sit in a rounded back position, then we need to get you stronger in the things that you need your body to do! The number one thing that you can do to help your body get the relief it needs is exercise your upper back.

Let me share with you my one-two punch for improving your upper back mobility and strength!

How Do You Stretch Out Your Upper Back?


For your upper back, motion is lotion! Therefore, these two exercises that I would like to share with you are going to be able to get your back feeling better in no time.

The only equipment you will need for these exercises is a chair. We are going to go over one exercise that is focused more on mobility and the second is going to be focused on strengthening. Mobility and Strengthening exercises are imperative to getting your back pain under control!

1. Upper Back Thoracic Extension

Upper Back Thoracic Extension Exercise For Upper Back Pain Relief
Upper Back Thoracic Extension For Upper Back Pain Relief

For this exercise, grab your chair and sit on your knees in front of the chair. Place your elbows on the chair and then scoot your knees back as far as you can. Next you are going to poke your butt out and sink into your arms.

You should be able to feel your upper back tighten up and feel the stretch. Make sure to keep your neck neutral, do not look up or down as this will affect the stretch. You should do about 20-30 of these and your upper back will feel loose in no time!

2. Quadruped Plus

Quadruped plus exercise for upper back pain
Quadruped Plus Starting Position
Quadruped Exercise for Upper Back Pain
Quadruped Plus End Position

For this movement, you are going to start on your hands and knees. Make sure that your hands are lined up right underneath your shoulders. Then you are going to push up with your hands, and then sink back down into the stretch. Push up, then dip down. Ensure that your arms are staying straight and you are not bending your elbows. There is a great demonstration of this movement in my YouTube video at the beginning of this blog!

This movement is working those muscles that are attached to your upper back and it is really really good for strengthening that area of your spine! Do about 30 reps of this movement and you will definitely be feeling much stronger.

In conclusion, upper back pain is usually caused from prolonged positions and lack of movement. If you prioritize strengthening and mobility exercises to your routine, you will be able to sit comfortably, however you like!

Dr. Michael Derry is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and board certified in orthopedics. He is very passionate about treating lower back pain and helping people build their resiliency. He has spent time assisting at universities as well as managing large clinics before starting his own practice in Jacksonville, FL.

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