9 Exercises for Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain can stem from improper posture, muscle strain, or injury. Nine exercises to relieve upper back discomfort and strengthen and flex the muscles:

1. Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Straighten your back when sitting or standing. Keep shoulder blades squeezed for a few seconds. Release and repeat 10-15 times.

2. Thoracic Extension Stretch

Sit with hands behind head on a chair. Look up and gently arch your upper back. Return to the starting position after 15–30 seconds of stretching. Repeat 3-5.

3. Cat-Cow Stretch

Start on hands and knees at a table. Cow pose—inhale and arch back, elevating head and tailbone. Cat pose—exhale and circle your back, chin to chest. Switch between Cat and Cow poses 10-15 times.

4. Child's Pose

Sit on your heels and kneel. Reach forward and lower your chest to the ground, resting your forehead. Deeply breathe while holding this stretch for 30–60 seconds.

5. Seated Rows

Sit on the floor with legs extended and feet wrapped in a resistance band. Arms outstretched, hold resistance band ends in front. Squeeze your shoulder blades as you pull the band to your waist. Release slowly and repeat 10-15 times.

6. Wall Angels

Stand with back against wall and arms bent 90 degrees, palms facing ahead. Maintain elbow and wrist contact as you slide your arms up the wall. Repeat from the start for 10-15 reps.

7. Doorway Stretch

Stand with arms at shoulder height and palms facing forward in a doorway. Stretch your chest and shoulders by leaning forward. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, then relax. Repeat as needed.

8. Scapular Retraction

Lay facedown on the floor with arms overhead. Squeeze your shoulder blades and lift your chest and arms. Back down and repeat 10-15 times.

9. Upper Back Foam Rolling

Lay on your back with a foam roller under your upper back. Roll slowly to treat upper back tightness or pain. Pause and gently press tense areas for 15–30 seconds.

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