Upper Back Pain

Upper Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades May Be Helped By Posture Correction Exercises And Stretches

One of the main causes of upper back pain is poor neck posture which ultimately pushes the area between the shoulder blades out as the head goes forward. Over time, this wears on the joints and discs of the spine.

Some neck exercises, described previously, are good for upper back pain and between the shoulder blades with causes related to poor posture habits. While the neck is conditioned to the normal position the shoulders are rotated outward to help exercise the muscles of the upper back and correct the rounded shoulder position.

The causes of pain in the upper back are varied so it is important to be examined by a doctor. A common cause without injury is related to poor posture at home and at work. Muscles and ligaments become over stretched and weak. Over a period of time, the joints become stressed and this causes a degenerative type of arthritis similar to that seen in the neck region with stiffness caused by restricted motion and irritation of pain sensitive structures like the nerves and spinal discs.

upper back pain pillow

In addition to the neck exercises which need to be performed, another one of the exercises I like to is performed like stretches and is also good for the neck.

upper back pain stretchFrom the starting position sitting on your legs with either the toes on the floor or the top of the feet on the floor. Slowly lean forward and let your hands touch the floor. Carefully inch your way forward with your hands pulling and keep your head looking forward. You can crawl with your fingertips but your lower body remains in the same starting position. As you move forward you should feel your upper back stretching. Tilt your head up as if looking at the ceiling while pulling forward on the carpet with your fingers and in some instances you may feel a release in the area between the shoulders. Hold the position for 10 – 20 seconds then reverse the process and return to a full starting position.

The first time you try the upper back exercises you should proceed slowly and stop if you feel and sharp or radiating pain. Take your time. One repetition should take a minute or two. To start do 1 or 2 repetitions or to release and do more as you progress. As with the neck exercises, the upper back exercises require quality of motion and relaxation instead of quantity. One good one is better than twenty bad ones.

If you have pain in your upper back and you paint ceilings or look up all day then these exercises and stretches are not for you. You may need the help of orthotic supports like the Neck Aid to ease postural strain. But if you sit slumped over a desk or do work where you constantly bend your head down then they may work for you.

One of my favorite upper back stretches is to lie on your back and stretch your arms on the floor up over your head. This works good with a firm pillow placed under the area between the shoulder blades and across the upper back. You can try rolling up a large towel and some are using large body balls.

scapular retraction exercises for upper back pain

As one of the major causes of upper back pain, posture correction using some of the methods described here to target the area between the shoulder blades with stretches and exercises is a good way to begin relief. A strengthening program for the neck and shoulders is a great way to correct and rehabilitate the problem.

The imbalance of postural muscles is often responsible for upper back pain. Forward head posture and rounded shoulders form a typical reaction to these imbalances, often termed “upper crossed syndrome”, a main therapeutic approach for postural restoration.

Focusing on weak upper back muscles like the rhomboids with scapular retractions as indicated a above is helpful, as is stretching weak pectoralis muscles. A main focus when addressing postural related upper back pain is the neck.

  • A 2019 study in the Journal of Biomechanics found that neck pain can cause a local instability in the thoracic spine. The instability, especially when accompanied by weak and/or over stretched muscles, can make the upper back vulnerable to muscle, tendon and ligament injuries.

Yoga Stretches For Upper Back Pain

Author Bio

Stephen Ornstein, D.C. has treated thousands of neck, shoulder and back conditions since graduating Sherman Chiropractic College in 1987 and during his involvement in Martial Arts. He holds certifications as a Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy from Dr. Hanne Albert, PT., MPH., Ph.D., Myofascial Release Techniques from Logan Chiropractic College, and learned Active Release Technique from the founder, P. Michael Leahy, DC, ART, CCSP.