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Stretch for upper back

5 Upper Back Stretches: How to Stretch Upper Back

Oct 27, 2022

Upper back stretches can be used both as a preparation for intense activity (like exercise) or, as a form of pain relief. Either way, by stretching properly, you are:

  • Increasing your flexibility
  • Improving your performance in physical ability
  • Enhancing blood flow to your muscles
  • Increasing your range of motion
  • Preventing back pain
  • Achieving stress relief
  • Improving your posture

This impressive list of benefits is, of course, far from complete. You see, the majority of gym injuries start with someone rushing to start lifting and skipping stretching. What they don’t realize is that they’re putting themselves at risk of injury. Moreover, stretching after the exercise (since it enhances blood flow) boosts your recovery. Needless to say, it’s in the recovery stage that your musculature grows the most.

Speaking of musculature, connected as it may be, it’s every muscle group for itself. With that in mind, it’s as important to learn how to stretch the upper back, as it is for any other body part. Your back muscles are your second-largest muscle group (just after your legs) and therefore require special attention on your part. Here are some stretching exercises to help you out.

1. Eagle Pose

One of the best ways to start stretching your shoulder blades is to learn how to do an eagle pose in a proper form. The process itself is fairly simple:

You start placing your right elbow on your left elbow. Now, you take your left hand and try to interlace it around the right arm. This pose allows you to gradually increase the pressure that you feel in your upper back opening.

Ideally, you should try to keep this pose between 20 and 30 seconds, however, if you’re just starting, just try to hold it for as long as you can. Once you’re done, repeat only with your left elbow on your right elbow. This way, you’re stretching both ends equally. Congratulations, you’ve just learned one of the most efficient upper back stretches between the shoulder blades.

2. Lat Side Stretch

Lat (latissimus dorsi) side stretches are an exercise designed to activate the biggest muscle on your back. Coincidentally, these are also the muscles that you use most often, regardless of how active you are or what you do throughout the day.

Start in a standing position and grab your right wrist with your left hand. Now, lean your torso towards the arm that is grabbing. Once you reach the final point (as far as you can bend on one side) try to hold this position for about 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat this 2-3 times for each side. That’s it, that’s one of the optimal upper back stretches that you’ve just learned how to do correctly.

3. Shoulder Roll

A thing that makes shoulder roll one of the best exercises for upper back pain is the fact that you can master it in a matter of seconds and feel its effects right away. All that you have to do is stand or sit facing forward and start by tilting your neck to the right side. Hold it like this for a second and then slowly roll it counterclockwise. Then, move your head to the left, hold for a second, and rotate it counterclockwise.

Now, while you can do this for a while, the truth is that, if you’re doing upper back stretches for pain relief, you probably shouldn’t go too hard. Even as little as 2-3 times for each side can give you the desired effect, without overworking this area. Of course, if you’re doing this as preparation for back exercises, you might want to drive yourself a bit harder.

4. Upper Trapezius Stretch

This exercise is amazing for those suffering from forwarding neck syndrome. Moreover, like the majority of other exercises on this list, it’s low-intensity and quite easy to master.

It’s designed to be done in a standing or seating position. All you need to do is place one of your hands on the opposite side of the head (from over it) and put the other hand behind your back. Now, try to bring your head as close as you can to your shoulder while pressing it with the top hand. Hold it like this for 20 to 30 seconds on each side.

This exercise is also great for people with herniated discs. However, if you have a history of herniated discs, we suggest you review our other article on herniated disc stretches and exercises. Adjusting your regimen to your condition and circumstances is the name of the game, it’s also the best way to incorporate stretches for back pain relief.

5. Child’s Pose

If you’ve ever seen a video about yoga, chances are that you’ve already seen this pose, only you didn’t know the name. Now, this alone is an indicator that the pose isn’t particularly complex. If anything, they choose this pose (alongside Upward Facing Dog) because they’re so simple that they can be done by extras even if they aren’t yogis.

Place yourself on your hands and knees, with your knees slightly wider than your hips. Now, turn your toes inward to touch and push your hips backward, while simultaneously bending your knees. Once you’re comfortable enough, straighten your arms forward, with your head falling forward, as well.

What’s so great about this pose is the fact that it’s an upper back stretch that you can perform in bed. This makes it a great way to start your morning. Also, keep in mind that you should hold the pose for 15 to 20 minutes, at least 3 times in relatively quick succession.

Wrap Up

In the end, there are a couple of tips that all of these upper back stretches have in common. First of all, they’re low-intensity, which makes them great even for those who are suffering from upper back pain. Second, they never take more than a couple of minutes to do, which means that you don’t have an excuse for skipping the stretch before the exercise. While some can be completed as soon as you get out of your bed, some, as you could have seen, you don’t even need to leave your bed for.

Nonetheless, if the pain is too sharp even while doing some of the lighter exercises, it might be a good idea that you contact spine doctors in NJ and get their opinion.

This article was reviewed and approved by an orthopedic surgeon as we place a high premium on accuracy for our patients and potential patients.