Upper and middle back pain is not as common as lower back or neck pain because the bones, disks, muscles and ligaments do not need to flex as much. Instead, these areas help the ribcage support the back, keep it stable and protect vital organs like the heart and lungs.
Common causes of upper and middle back pain
Even though lower back pain is more common, many people experience upper or middle back pain caused by:
- Overuse, muscle strain or injury
- Incorrect or poor posture
- Excess pressure on the spinal nerves
- Bone fracture
- Herniated disks
Five exercises to alleviate upper and middle back pain
Certain exercises will help improve your posture, decrease your risk for injury and reduce pain. Start by stretching, then try these five easy exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back, shoulders and stomach:
Upper back exercises
- One-arm dumbbell row
Choose a flat bench, place your right leg on top of the bench and bend your torso until it is parallel with the floor. Next, place your right hand on the other end of the bench and hold a weighted dumbbell in your left. With your torso stationary, exhale as you pull the dumbbell up to the side of your chest while keeping your arms close to your body. Breathe out as your slowly return your arm to the starting position. Complete three sets of ten, alternating sides.
- Face pull
Secure a resistance band to a stable surface above eye level and grasp each end of the band using an overhand grip. Next, pull the band directly toward the face while flaring your elbows out to the sides and squeezing your shoulders together. Complete three sets of ten.
- Reverse dumbbell fly
Using lightweight dumbbells, stand with your torso bent at a 45-degree angle and your arms hanging down. Next, keep your neck neutral and your eyes down as you lift your arms to the sides and up. At the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulders together. Complete three sets of ten.
Middle back exercises
Lay on your stomach with your arms and legs fully extended. While keeping your neck neutral, lift your arms and legs off the ground at the same time using your back and glute muscles. Complete three sets of ten.
- Cat cow
Start on all fours with your palms directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Draw your navel up toward your spine and lower your head to relax your neck. Hold this position for three to five seconds and then return to a neutral position. Next, look up while lowering your back toward the floor. Hold this position for three to five seconds and repeat the entire sequence five times.
It’s important to consult with your physician before beginning this or any exercise routine.
If you’re interested in learning more about effective exercises for upper and middle back pain, contact Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants at 210-255-8935. We specialize in nonsurgical pain treatments in the San Antonio communities of Medical Center, Stone Oak, Westover Hills and Southwest.