Blog Mental Health Yoga Upper Spine Stretches: How To Relieve Upper Back Pain And Stiffness

Upper Spine Stretches: How To Relieve Upper Back Pain And Stiffness

Modern life seems to be all about hunching over computers and phones, yet our spines aren’t designed for that kind of repetitive stress. That all too often results in stiffness and pain in the upper back has become increasingly common. Fortunately, there are a few simple stretches that can help relieve upper back pain and stiffness. The purpose of upper spine stretches is to lengthen and release the muscles that run along the length of the spine. They may also help increase the range of motion in the shoulders and neck. In this article, we’ll show you some of the best upper spine stretches to help relieve pain and stiffness. We’ll also provide a step-by-step guide on how to perform each stretch correctly. If you’re looking for relief from upper back pain, stiffness, or tightness, read on.

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How Do You Stretch The Top Of Your Spine?

Here are ten upper spine stretches to try:

Seated Forward Bend

This stretch is great for lengthening the muscles along the entire length of the spine. It also helps to release tension in the shoulders and neck.

To do a seated forward bend:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Reach your arms overhead and interlace your fingers.
  3. Gently pull your head down towards your knees, keeping your back straight.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a restorative yoga pose that is often used to relieve back pain. It stretches the muscles along the spine and also helps release tension in the shoulders and neck.

To do child’s pose:

  1. Start on all fours with your knees hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Walk your hands forward until they’re in line with your knees.
  3. Lower your buttocks down towards your heels and rest your forehead on the floor.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
See also
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Read More: How To Stretch Quads To Increase Mobility And Prevent Injury?

upper spine stretches

Cat-Cow Pose

Cat-cow pose is a common yoga stretch that helps release tension in the back, neck, and shoulders. It also increases the range of motion in the spine.

To do cat-cow pose:

  1. Start on all fours with your knees hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Inhale deeply as you curve your spine upwards into an arch, letting your head and tailbone drop towards the floor. This is the cow pose.
  3. Exhale deeply as you round your spine upwards, tucking your chin towards your chest and drawing your tailbone down towards your heels. This is the cat pose.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Thoracic Extension

Your thorax is the part of your spine that runs from your neck to your lower back. The muscles in this area can often become tight and contribute to upper back pain.

To do a thoracic extension:

  1. Sit on a chair facing forward, with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your thighs.
  2. Gently arch your back, tilting your pelvis forwards and extending your chest.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Neck Roll

This simple stretch helps to release tension in the muscles of the neck. It’s also a great way to increase the range of motion in your neck.

To do a neck roll:

  1. Sit or stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your chin level.
  2. Gently lower your right ear towards your right shoulder.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds, then roll your head forward so your chin is level with your chest.
  4. Gently roll your head to the left, then back to the right.
  5. Repeat 5 times in each direction.
See also
Yoga After Eating: Simple Asanas To Do After Overeating

upper spine stretches

Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder shrugs are a great way to release tension in the muscles of the shoulders and neck. They also help increase the range of motion in the shoulders.

To do shoulder shrugs:

  1. Sit or stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your chin level.
  2. Slowly raise your shoulders up towards your ears, then release them back down.
  3. Repeat 10 times.

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Arm Circles

Arm circles are a dynamic stretch that helps release tension in the muscles of the shoulders and upper back. They also help increase the range of motion in the shoulders.

To do arm circles:

  1. Sit or stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your chin level.
  2. Raise your arms out to the sides so they’re in line with your shoulders.
  3. Slowly circle your arms in one direction 10 times, then reverse the direction and circle them 10 more times.

Trunk Rotation

Several muscles make up your trunk; the large muscles in your back, sides, and abdomen. These muscles can often become tight and contribute to lower back pain. Because your lower back is connected to your pelvis, trunk rotations can also help release tension in the hips.

To do a trunk rotation:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Keep your lower back pressed firmly against the floor as you slowly rotate your knees to one side.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds, then rotate your knees to the other side.
  4. Repeat 5 times in each direction.

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Wall Stretch

The wall stretch is a simple move that you can perform anywhere; even while you’re at work. This stretch helps to release tension in the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and upper back.

See also
Yoga Poses For Hips: Giving Your Lower Body A Good Stretch!

To do a wall stretch:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  2. Place your palms flat against a wall at shoulder height.
  3. Step forward with your right leg and keep your palms flat against the wall, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat on the other side.

Hang From A Pull-Up Bar

Hanging from a pull-up bar is a great way to release tension in the muscles of the back, shoulders, and arms. It’s also a great way to improve your grip strength.

To hang from a pull-up bar:

  1. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hang from the bar with your feet off the ground.
  3. Let your body weight stretch the muscles of your back, shoulders, and arms.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Read More: Shoulder Mobility Exercises & Stretches For Better Range Of Motion

upper spine stretches

How To Perform Upper Back Spine Stretches Safely And Effectively

Stretching correctly is important in order to avoid injury and get the most out of your stretches. Here are a few tips on how to perform upper back spine stretches safely and effectively:

Warm Up

Warming up is necessary because it helps prepare your body for physical activity and prevents injury (2).

A simple way to warm up is to do 5 minutes of light cardio such as walking or jogging. This increases blood flow to your muscles and gets them ready for stretching.

Stretch Slowly And Gently

When stretching, it’s important to go slowly and gently at first. Don’t force your body into a stretch, but rather let it happen gradually. You should feel a mild pulling sensation, but no pain. If you feel pain, ease off the stretch.

See also
Office Yoga: An Effortless Way To Work On Flexibility Throughout The Day

Hold Each Stretch

Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute. This allows your muscles time to relax and lengthen.

Breathe Normally

When stretching, take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This helps you relax and also increases the amount of oxygen that gets to your muscles.

upper spine stretches

Avoiding Common Stretching Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes that people make when stretching. These can lead to injury and decreased effectiveness of the stretch. Here are a few things to avoid (1):

  • Bouncing: When performing dynamic stretches, it’s important to avoid bouncing. This puts unnecessary stress on your muscles and joints and can lead to injury.
  • Overstretching: Stretching too far can lead to muscle strains and tears. It’s important to only stretch to the point where you feel a mild pulling sensation.
  • Holding Your Breath: When stretching, it’s important to breathe normally. Holding your breath puts unnecessary stress on your body and can make it difficult to relax.
  • Using Momentum: When performing static stretches, it’s important to avoid using momentum. This means that you should move into the stretch slowly and under control.

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Preventing Upper Back Pain And Stiffness

Upper back pain and stiffness are common problems that can be caused by a variety of factors. These include bad posture, lack of exercise, and muscle tension (3). Luckily, there are a few simple things that you can do to help prevent these problems.

See also
Chair Yoga Poses To Help You De-Stress

Here are a few tips to help prevent upper back pain and stiffness (3):

  • Improve your posture: Proper posture helps to prevent strain on your muscles and joints. While seated, make sure that your back is straight and your shoulders are relaxed. When standing, keep your weight evenly balanced on both feet.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise helps strengthen the muscles of the back and improve flexibility. A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training is best.
  • Stretch your upper back muscles: Stretching the muscles of the upper back frequently can help prevent stiffness and pain.
  • Use proper lifting techniques: When lifting objects, make sure to use your legs and not your back. Avoid twisting your body while lifting. Also, don’t lift objects that are too heavy for you.
  • Sit in a supportive chair: When sitting for long periods of time, make sure to sit in a chair that provides support for your back. Avoid slouching or sitting in one position for too long.

By following these tips, you can help prevent upper back pain and stiffness. If you do experience these problems, be sure to see a doctor or physical therapist for treatment.

upper spine stretches

Upper Spine Stretches: When To See A Doctor About Upper Back Pain

Most upper back pain is not serious and can be treated at home with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication. However, if your pain is severe or persists for more than a few days, you should see a doctor.

Additionally, if you experience any numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs, you should seek medical attention as this could be a sign of a more serious condition (3).

If you’re not sure whether or not your pain is serious, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and see a doctor.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Stretching Exercises (n.d., winchesterhospital.com) 
  2. The effectiveness of neuromuscular warm-up strategies, that require no additional equipment, for preventing lower limb injuries during sports participation: a systematic review (2012, biomedcentral.com) 
  3. Upper Back Pain (2022, clevelandclinic.org)
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