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MY TOP STRETCHES FOR UPPER BACK PAIN

Millions of working days, and millions of £’s in earnings are lost in the UK each year due to chronic back pain.

Upper back pain is less common and more complex than lower back pain. It is usually caused by muscle strain and joint injury due to poor posture, over use, strain, sports injuries and motor accidents.

Sitting causes up to twice a much pressure on intervertebral discs than standing.

Moving regularly, stretching and strengthening shoulder, neck and upper back muscles helps to prevent and treat upper back pain. Pilates is a great class to keep you mobile.
Begin exercises slowly to warm up muscles and prevent injury.

Wall Push-ups
Wall push-ups help to increase the strength and flexibility of shoulder and upper back muscles. Begin by standing up straight in front of a wall. Rest your palms on the wall so that your arms are straight in front of you and your elbows are not bent. Slow bend both elbows, moving your upper body towards the wall, so that your nose is almost touching it. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds, then slowly straighten your arms so that your body is pushed back to the standing position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Cat Stretch
Chiropractors recommend the cat stretch to alleviate upper back pain. Begin on all fours on a floor mat. Lean back (like a cat stretching) while keeping your hands and knees in place. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, relax and repeat.

Protraction and Retraction
The protraction and retraction exercise works the shoulder, neck and upper back muscles to reduce muscle pain and tension. Begin by standing up straight and bringing both shoulders forward as far as possible. Hold for three to five seconds, then pull the shoulders back as far back as possible so that the shoulder blades are squeezed together. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and repeat 10 to 15 times.

Towel Stretch
The towel stretch can increase flexibility of the upper back and shoulder muscles. Begin by standing in front of a mirror and hold one end of a towel in your right hand with the other end tossed over your right shoulder. With your left hand reach behind you and grasp the other end of the towel. Pull down on the towel to stretch the right arm up. Hold for 15 seconds, relax and repeat with both arms.this can also be done with a resistance band.

Side Stretch
The side stretch exercise works the shoulder, neck and upper back muscles. Begin by stretching your right arm over your head and the other bent with your hand at your waist. Lean over to your left as far as possible and hold this position for five to 10 seconds. Relax and repeat with both sides of the body.

The Butterfly
This exercise can be performed while sitting or standing. Place your left hand on your left shoulder and your right hand on your right shoulder. Both of your palms should be facing down and resting on your shoulders. Leave your hands in place and try to bring both elbows together in front of your body. You will feel a pull in your upper back. Hold this stretch for several seconds and then relax. Repeat 10 to 15 times and perform one to three sets daily.

Trunk Rotation
Sit on the bed, a table or a chair with your back straight and your legs positioned directly in front of your hips with both feet flat on the floor. Place your left hand on your right shoulder and your right hand on your left shoulder. Begin to twist your upper body first to the left and then to the right. Begin with slight rotations at first and perform bigger rotations as the muscles of your upper back loosen up. Repeat 10 times on each side

These stretches and variations of, are incorporated into my Pilates / orthopaedic Pilates classes.

For more information or for a free trial Pilates session please contact hilary@pt-me.co.uk and quote “back pain”.