If your upper back is constantly aching or you’re always feeling tense, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many people complain about these symptoms, especially when they spend extended periods hunched over and are under stress. Fortunately, simple exercises can help relieve the pain and loosen up tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back area. This article will list some of these stretches for you, along with tips on how to warm up first to prevent injuries.
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How to Warm Up Before Stretching
Before you attempt any of the following stretches, it’s important that you warm up first. An excellent way to do this is by doing some light cardio for 5-10 minutes. This could be a brisk walk, light jog, or even dancing around your living room!
Warm Up 1: Running on the Spot
If you don’t have any equipment or space to do a full-blown cardio workout, simply running on the spot is a great way to get your heart rate up and start breaking a sweat.
Doing this for just 5 minutes will help prepare your body for the stretches by getting the blood flowing and loosening up your muscles.
To do running on the spot, just follow these steps:
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees and lean slightly forward, then start running in place as fast as you can.
- Keep your back straight and your head up, and make sure to land on your heel first before transferring all your weight to your toes.
- Pump your arms up and down as you run for extra momentum.
- Keep going for about 5 minutes or until you’ve broken a good sweat.
Warm Up 2: Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are another great way to get your heart rate up and warm your muscles before stretching.
To do a jumping jack, follow these steps:
- Start by standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
- Jump up, spreading your legs out to the side while simultaneously bringing your arms up over your head.
- As you land, reverse the motion by bringing your legs back together and your arms back down to your sides.
- Jump up again and repeat the motion.
- Do as many jumping jacks as you can for about 5 minutes.
Warm Up 3: Neck Rolls
Neck rolls are a great way to warm up the muscles in your neck and shoulders before stretching them.
To do a neck roll, follow these steps:
- Start by sitting or standing up straight with your shoulders relaxed.
- Drop your chin down to your chest, then slowly roll your head from side to side.
- Roll your head as far as you can comfortably go without pain, then reverse the motion and roll your head in the other direction.
- Do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise, then switch directions and repeat.
9 Stretches to Relieve Upper Back Pain
Now that you’re warmed up, it’s time to start stretching those muscles! Here are nine stretches that will help relieve upper back pain:
Neck flexion stretch is an easy movement that anyone can do at any age. This stretch target the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and sternocleidomastoid muscles. The benefits of this stretch are an increased range of motion in the neck and shoulders and a reduction in tension headaches.
To do this stretch:
- Sit up tall in a chair with your shoulders relaxed.
- Tilt your head forward, allowing your chin to drop toward your chest. You should feel a gentle stretch along the back of your neck.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, then slowly return to your starting position.
- Repeat 2-3 times.
Doing this stretch regularly can help to improve your posture and reduce pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
The shoulder roll is a simple yet effective stretch that can help to relieve tension in the shoulders, neck, and upper back.
- Start by sitting up straight with your feet flat on the ground to do the stretch.
- Then, slowly roll your shoulders forwards and upwards, bringing your shoulder blades together.
- Hold this position for five to ten seconds before releasing. You should feel a gentle stretch in your chest and shoulders.
- To increase the stretch, you can clasp your hands behind your back and gently pull your elbows towards each other.
The shoulder roll stretch is a great way to loosen up tight muscles and improve the range of motion in the shoulders. It can also help to prevent pain and injury in the upper body.
Child’s pose is a restorative yoga pose that can benefit people of all fitness levels. The pose helps to stretch the back and hips and can also help to reduce stress and fatigue.
To do the pose:
- Start by sitting on your heels with your knees hip-width apart.
- Slowly lean forward, placing your forehead on the ground.
- Extend your arms out in front of you, letting your chest and shoulders relax.
- Once you are in the pose, breathe deeply and hold for as long as comfortable.
The pose is a great way to relieve tension in the back and hips and can also be helpful for promoting relaxation.
The Thoracic Extension stretch is a great way to increase upper back and shoulders flexibility.
- To do the stretch, simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
- Then, keeping your knees straight, lean backward until you feel a gentle stretch in your chest and shoulders.
- For an added challenge, you can try clasping your hands together behind your back before leaning backward.
The Thoracic Extension stretch is an excellent way to relieve tension in the upper body and improve the range of motion in the shoulders. Give it a try next time you need a break from sitting at a desk or lifting weights. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels.
The Trunk Rotation stretch is a simple but effective way to loosen up the muscles and joints in the upper body. It helps to improve flexibility in the spine, shoulders, and hips and can also help to relieve tension headaches.
To do the Trunk Rotation stretch:
- Start by sitting on the floor with both legs extended straight in front of you.
- Place your right hand behind your head and your left hand on your right knee.
- Slowly twist your torso to the right, emphasizing the rotation from your lower back.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
For an added challenge, you can also try doing the Trunk Rotation stretch while standing up.
Overhead Arm Reach
The Overhead Arm Reach is a great stretch for the shoulders, chest, and upper back. It helps to improve the range of motion and can also help to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. Here’s how to do it.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Raise your right arm overhead and reach for the sky.
- Hold this position for a few deep breaths, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Clasp your hands behind your head and reach up for a deeper stretch. This stretches the triceps muscle in the back of the upper arm.
You can also try this stretch with your arms in front of you, reaching up and back as far as you can. This will help to open up the chest muscles. Again, remember to breathe deeply and evenly as you stretch.
The Cat-Cow pose is a gentle way to warm up the spine and open the chest. It’s a great pose to do before any physical activity and can also help relieve stress and tension. The Cat-Cow pose can be done by anyone, regardless of their fitness level.
To do the Cat-Cow pose:
- Start in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the ground.
- As you inhale, lift your tailbone and curve your back, letting your belly sag toward the ground.
- As you exhale, reverse the movement and round your back, tucking your chin toward your chest.
- Repeat this movement for several breaths.
The Cat-Cow pose stretches the abdomen, chest, and back muscles. It also helps to promote flexibility in the spine. If you have any pain or injuries in these areas, please consult with a doctor before doing this pose.
Knee to Chest Pose
The Knee to Chest pose is a great way to stretch the lower back and buttocks. It can also help relieve tension headaches and neck pain. Here’s how to do it.
- Lie on your back on the floor with both legs extended straight.
- Bring your right knee up to your chest, holding it with both hands.
- Gently pull the knee in toward your chest until you feel a gentle stretch.
- Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
You can also try this pose with both knees up at the same time. If this is too difficult, you can place a pillow or blanket under your knees for support. Breathe deeply and evenly as you hold the pose.
The Wall Stretch is a great way to stretch the chest and shoulders. It can also help to improve posture and relieve tension headaches. Here’s how to do it.
- Stand with your back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height, fingers pointing up.
- Lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the chest and shoulders.
- Hold for 30 seconds, and then return to the starting position.
For an added challenge, you can try this stretch with your arms overhead. Reach up as high as you can, keeping your back against the wall. This will help to open up the chest even more.
These are just a few of the many stretches that can help to relieve upper back pain. Remember to breathe deeply and relax into the stretch. If you feel any pain, stop the stretch and consult with a doctor. Regular stretching can help to improve your flexibility and range of motion, which can help to prevent injuries. So make sure to add some stretching into your daily routine!