10 Simple Stretches for Mid Back Pain

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Most people spend a lot of their day sitting at a computer or driving. When we sit for a long period of time, we put pressure on our spine. This can lead to muscle tightness in your upper and mid back region. Incorporating movements that elongate the spine and stretch out the front and back side of your body will reduce mid back pain by opening up these muscles.

Common Causes to Mid Back Pain

  • Poor Posture
  • Obesity
  • Muscle sprain or strain
  • Herniated disk
  • Aging

10 Simple Stretches for Mid Back Pain

Mix-and-match stretches to create a stretch routine suited for you! Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds. Remember to breathe as you stretch!

1. Seated Twist

Seated twist stretch

Twists are a great way to release tension in the mid back and improve flexibility. Twisting movements help to gently stretch and elongate the spine.

  • Begin in seated position with your legs crossed.
  • Place one arm behind you. Place the other arm on the outer thigh for a twist.
  • Inhale as your sit up tall.
  • Exhale and twist your body towards the back arm. Your eyes should be looking over your shoulder.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on both sides.

2. Extended Puppy Pose

Extended Puppy Pose

This yoga pose is a combination of the Child’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog. There are a few different variations that you can do with or without a block. The Extended Puppy Pose opens up the muscles around your thoracic spine.

  • Begin in a kneeling position. 
  • Gently lower your upper body onto the ground by extending your arms out in front of you.
  • Make sure your hips are over your knees. Rest your forehead on the ground.
  • On each exhale, sink your chest down onto the ground.
  • Transfer your weight from one side of your body to the other to stretch your spine in both directions.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Modification: Use a yoga block under your elbows as support. Clasp your hands together in a prayer position on top of the block.

3. Kneeling Reach to Ceiling

Kneeling Reach to Ceiling

This movement helps keep your lower back in pack while allowing you to open up your chest, shoulders and mid back.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Keep your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Reach one arm towards the ceiling.
  • Look up at the extended arm to keep your chest open.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on both sides.

4. Quadruped Thoracic Rotation

Quadruped Thoracic Rotation

This is a great stretch for Thoracic or ‘T-Spine mobility’. The thoracic spine is important for keeping your shoulder and lumbar spine in place and moving properly.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Keep your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Place one arm behind your head.
  • Inhale as you rotate your elbow up towards the ceiling. Chest open, head up.
  • Exhale as you bring the elbow down and across to your other arm.
  • Repeat for 5-10 breath cycles on both sides.

5. Thread the Needle

Thread the Needle

Thread the Needle Pose opens up the shoulders, chest, arms, upper back and neck. It also gives your spine a gentle twist.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Keep your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • On the exhale, slide one arm underneath your body towards your other arm with your palm facing up.
  • Lower your shoulder to the ground.
  • Rest the side of your face on the mat, gazing in the same direction.
  • Keep your other elbow lifted and your hips raised. Be careful not to press your weight onto your head.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on both sides.
  • To get out of this position – press against the ground to bring your arm out from underneath you. You should be back in both hands and knees.
  • Modification: Start on your forearms instead of your hands for a more mild stretch.

6. Elbow Stretch

This stretch helps with shoulder mobility. You will feel a gentle stretch across the under part of your arm through to your mid back.

  • Begin in a kneeling position with a table in front of you. You should be able to place your elbows on the table.
  • Place your elbows on a table with your hands clasped. Inhale.
  • Exhale as you flatten your back, pulling your head through your arms.
  • Press your chest down and through as you exhale to intensify the stretch.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.

7. Half Pancake Side Stretch

Half Pancake Side Stretch

The Half Pancake Side stretch is a great combination stretch that targets sidebending, hip flexors and spinal rotation.

  • Begin in a seated position.
  • Extend one leg out to the side.
  • Bend the other leg so your foot is facing towards you.
  • Bring the elbow of the extended leg to the ground
  • Reach the other arm up and over towards the extended leg for a side stretch.
  • Look up towards the ceiling to keep your chest open.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on both sides.

8. Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

This yoga pose stretches your back and shoulders. It’s a great stretch for those who spend the day sitting in front of a computer or driving.

  • Lie down on the ground with your back on the mat.
  • Bend your knees, keep your arms on the sides of your body.
  • Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, pressing your feet firmly against the ground.
  • Make sure that your knees are right over your ankles.
  • On each exhale, lift up with your hips and chest.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.

9. Low Lunge Wall Twist for Mid Back Pain

Low Lunge Wall Twist

Twisting movements help to ‘ring out’ or release stored tension in the body.

  • Position your body perpendicular to the wall.
  • Get into a low lunge position. The knee furthest away from the wall should be on the ground.
  • Twist your body towards the wall.
  • Hold the wall with both hands as support.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on both sides.

10. Standing Wall Twist for Mid Back Pain

Standing Wall Twist

A variation of the Low Lunge Twist with Wall. This stretch also opens up the chest and side body.

  • Stand with your body perpendicular to the wall.
  • Extend the arm closest to the wall back against the wall.
  • Lunge forward with the leg closest to the wall. Your leg furthest from the wall should be straight.
  • With the other arm, each over your body to touch the wall to stretch out the side.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on both sides.

Conclusion

As we age, pain in our back seems to persist. The good thing is, stretching regularly and targeting muscle tightness is a simple way to make the pain go away. If you don’t have the space to stretch, there are seated stretches for back pain that you can do while sitting.

When you stretch, remember to properly align your limbs to the rest of your body. Your knees and wrists should always be directly under your hips and shoulders. Your joints should stack up and support each other to protect your body from injury.

Move slowly in and out of each pose. Remember to be aware of your breath. This will help your body relax into each stretch to make the most out of it.

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