There’s no such thing as good back pain. It hurts, it negatively impacts your ability to perform daily tasks, and it always seems to rear its ugly head at the most inopportune times. This is especially true of pain in your upper back that can radiate into your neck, cause headaches, and more.
For those who spend much of their time working at a desk, upper back pain is quite common. Thankfully, there are steps you can take in the comfort of your own home or office to alleviate your upper back pain.
The good news doesn’t stop there—we’ve compiled some of our favorite, most effective upper back stretches below!
If we were ranking back stretches, the cat-cow would be near the top in every category. It’s truly that effective when it comes to releasing muscular tension and relieving pain.
While it perhaps has an unfair advantage thanks to being two stretches made into one, the cat-cow is a stretch you should not hesitate to incorporate into your stretching routine. It activates and stretches the entirety of your back, from your hips all the way to your neck.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
The upper trapezius is severely affected by poor posture. Because many people work at a desk day-after-day, tight trapezius muscles are incredibly common. This simple stretch can effectively release much of the tension that accompanies tight traps and help heal your posture at the same time.
While you are sure to feel the stretch immediately, it’s important not to overdo it or get too aggressive. Doing so could aggravate your neck and lead to discomfort that might stick around for several days. Instead, stretch slowly and gently, ensuring the stretch does its work in a safe way!
This stretch may seem a little too relaxing to be effective, but trust us, it is!
The basic version is great for releasing tight Latissimus dorsi, and the variations can spread that relief to other muscles in the upper back. Consider adding a twist (literally) by slipping one arm beneath the other and allowing your upper back to rotate as you reach.
Levator Scapulae Stretch
The constant hunching we do for hours a day, whether it’s looking at a keyboard or a phone screen, can lead to significant tightness in the levator scapulae. When you have such tightness, your neck is bound to experience pain, and that pain is likely to spread to your upper back.
This is another stretch that should be done in a controlled manner, as the muscles in the neck can be overstretched and injured by being overzealous.
Thoracic Foam Rolling
If you have never foam rolled, you are truly missing out on immense back pain relief. While this technique can be strange to get used to initially, a bit of practice and a lot of relief later, you’ll be amazed at how effective foam rolling your back can be.
The control foam rolling gives you allows you to target the tighter, more painful areas of your upper back. This means you can spend more time working on your problem areas to reduce tension and release pain.
This list should provide you with a great base on which to build your upper back stretching routine. We recommend talking to your doctor about your particular situation and planning a stretching regimen with them to ensure it is safe and appropriate for you!