In this day and age, it is common for people to suffer from upper back pain and other back problems and more often than not people are searching for ways to find relief.

Each day the majority of us are sat, hunched over a desk typing away or curled up staring at our phones, craning our neck forward causing stress to the upper back and neck.

In this article, you’ll learn effective stretches and remedies that will help you achieve relief for both acute and chronic upper back pain.

Know your back

Your spine is a crucial part of the skeleton and as well as having the bones, your back is made up of several ligaments, joints, muscles, nerves, and tendons that help to keep the body upright and moving. The spine is made up of 24 bones stacked on top of each other called the vertebrae and in-between each there are discs that allow your spine to bend and act as shock absorbers to stop any damage to the bones.

When you experience upper back pain, this is located in either the cervical vertebrae in the top part of the thoracic vertebrae in the middle part of your spin. There are many different ways to aid pain relief in the upper back area.

What causes upper back pain?

There are several reasons that you may be experiencing upper back pain, whether that be acute or chronic.

  • Lifestyle choice: If you’re slouching at a desk all day or stand with poor posture, then chances are that this will lead to tight chest muscles and a weak upper back. This usually results in chronic upper back pain if not dealt with.
  • Being overweight: Carrying excess body weight can also cause a lot of upper back pain. The strain of the extra weight causes pressure on the spine that can lead to chronic problems that will be aided with weight-loss.
  • Lifting heavy items: Whether you carry heavy items on a daily basis or on a one-off, if not lifted appropriately, then this can cause injury.
  • Sports injury: Whether you’re taking part in an impact sport or not, all sports can cause injury. As well as acute injury from sport such as sprains, strains and ligament damage, it can also cause muscle in-balance and injury which will lead to secondary upper back pain.
  • Stress and emotion: A lot of us don’t realize how much stress impacts our bodies. When you’re stressed, it leads to muscle tension and, in particular, in the upper back and shoulders.

Stretches for upper back pain relief

One of the best ways to relieve upper back pain is through stretching. Anything that helps to flex the upper part of the spin will help to relieve any tension there. Some of the most common stretches are:

Child’s pose:

Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, spread your knees wide and sit back onto your heels with your arms outstretched in front. You should feel the stretch in your upper back and latissimus dorsi if you spread your hands as far away from your body as possible.

From here, you can alter the exercise by weaving one arm under the other and lying on the side of the face. Once you’ve held this position for 30 seconds or more, swap to the other side.

Cat pose:

Start the pose on your hands and feet on a tabletop position and slowly begin to bring the chin towards the chest and lift your spine and navel towards the ceiling. Once you’ve held this position for a few seconds, begin to invert the pose, drop your spine and navel towards the floor and bring your chin to the ceiling.

Chest stretch:

Often upper back pain can occur as a result of slouching forward and having tight chest muscles, therefore, it can be helpful to stretch the chest if you struggle with upper back pain. Place your hands in the small of your lower back and pin the elbows back as far as you can, sticking the chest forwards. You should feel some tension being released in the chest muscles.

Other ways to relieve upper back pain

There are several other ways to relieve pain in the upper back area.


Regular massages can help to remove knots in the back and ease any tension that may have occurred through exercise or stress.

If you’re experiencing muscle pain in the upper back, then a Swedish or sports massage may be the best option as they add more pressure to the muscles and therefore help remove some of the soreness.


If the pain is excessive or has happened as a result of an acute accident, then you may need to take some over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen. Another option could be placing an ice or heat pack on the area of discomfort to relieve some pain.

Consult a specialist:

If none of these options work and the pain persists, then visiting your doctor or a specialist could be the best option. From here, they will be able to advise you on what the underlying issue is and what necessary measures you need to take.

Suffering from upper back pain can cause problems that affect you in everyday life. Finding the best way to relieve pain in your upper back pain can aid any issues you are having and help not only in the short term but with any chronic issues you may be experiencing.



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