If you’re reading this, you’re likely sitting behind your computer or hunched over your phone, looking for a solution to your upper back pain.
The tension you’re feeling may cause not only physical discomfort but also mental strain. You’re hoping to find a holistic way to begin feeling better again.
We’re here to help you feel better holistically.
The key to helping ease your upper back pain involves …
1. Finding the right techniques and tools; and
2. Knowing how to properly use the tools and techniques provided
… to help ease your pain.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to use yoga poses and techniques to help stretch your muscles and breathe your way out of upper back tension, and help ease pain— and potentially improve your overall physical and mental health.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to provide medical advice or treat/cure any pain, illness, or disease. If you’re experiencing upper back pain, we recommend you visit your doctor.
• 3 Factors that Can Be Influencing your Upper Back Pain
• Can Yoga Help With Upper Back Pain?
• What Are the Best Yoga Poses to Help Ease Upper Back Pain?
• 2 Gentle Yoga Exercises to Help Ease Upper Back Pain
• 3 Effective Breathing Exercises that May Help Ease Upper Back Pain
• 4 Tips for Making the Most of Your New Breathing and Yoga Routine
• Contact a Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi Location Near You to Learn More About Yoga to Help Ease Upper Back Pain
There are a multitude of causes of upper back pain. Below we share the 3 most common causes.
Living a sedentary lifestyle or even regularly sitting for long periods can cause the upper back muscles to become weak and deconditioned — making them unable to hold the spine in its proper alignment as easily as they once did.
This is especially common for those who spend most of their day in front of a computer screen with very little movement.
When you sit with your head and shoulders hunched forward, you put more pressure on your…
• Discs; and
• Other soft tissues
This could lead to discomfort and pain in the upper back.
Overusing muscles in the back is another common culprit that causes upper back pain.
This is due to several reasons, including:
• Muscle strains
• Ligament strings
• Irritation; or
• Inflammation of the upper back muscles
Whether it’s due to repeating the same motions over and over again, or because you’ve used your upper back muscles more than you normally would, back pain caused by overusing your muscles can really take a toll on mental and physical well-being.
Ignoring the signs that you’re overusing the muscles in your back can lead to chronic pain.
Does this sound like you?
If so, consider learning yoga to help ease upper back pain to help you overcome tension and discomfort caused by overuse.
Trauma caused by an injury, such as a car accident, a drastic fall, or even a sports injury, can cause upper back pain due to injuring specific parts of the back.
Even everyday activities can cause traumatic injury and upper back pain, especially if you’ve worked out too hard or lifted something incorrectly.
Not all injuries are evident at the time of injury. In fact, many times, upper back pain caused by an injury doesn’t develop until hours, or even days, later.
If you’re worried that you may have experienced a traumatic injury that could be the reason for your upper back pain, you must contact your doctor to ensure proper healing and to see if treatment is necessary.
Yes! If you’re dealing with upper back pain, yoga might be just what you need on your daily “to-do list” to help you ease the pain.
Practicing yoga can help you strengthen your body, renew your mind, and improve your breathing — all things that can help alleviate the symptoms of upper back pain.
To help your spine maintain proper posture and reduce pain, you want the muscles that support your spine to remain strong and conditioned — this includes having core strength to support your posture.
Yoga that can not only help ease upper back pain — and help the muscles of your back and core stay strong — but the stress that contributes to it.
At Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi, we know that stress often manifests itself as pain. This is why we believe it’s essential not only to focus on your physical health but your emotional well-being and spiritual satisfaction; they are all connected.
We provide practical techniques to help with all three aspects of your life.
Yoga for releasing upper back tension, shoulder pain, and neck pain have benefits beyond simply getting rid of physical discomfort.
By learning the right techniques — even simple techniques that you can do from the comfort of your desk chair — you may be able to lessen the stress and anxiety that accompanies the pain.
When most people think of yoga, they often think of the practices learned during traditional Indian yoga, where poses and postures are strung together, moving from one pose to the next, using breathing to relieve tension and pain.
But yoga doesn’t have to mean following along with an intense 90-minute video on your living room floor to ease your upper back or neck pain.
Instead, you can focus on doing gentle, consistent stretches from just about anywhere to help ease the pain in your upper back.
The following section discusses our favorite gentle yoga exercises that may help relieve upper back pain and increase mental clarity.
These stretches don’t have to be drastic either.
Whether you’re sitting at your desk at work or realize you’ve been slouched in front of the television and your upper back is aching, these two stretches can do wonders over time.
Overhead arm stretches are often considered a “warm-up”, but are a great way to open up the shoulder blades and release the tension in your back.
To do overhead arm stretches to ease upper back and shoulder pain, begin by sitting or standing with your shoulders back and your chest lifted.
Next, start lifting your arms directly over your head with your palms facing inward. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, reach your arms a little bit higher, until you begin to feel the stretch. Slowly bend to one side of your body.
Bring yourself back to the center, and repeat the process, leaning to the opposite side of your body.
Don’t push yourself too hard. If it becomes at all uncomfortable, don’t push any further.
Supine twists are an excellent yoga stretch to help ease upper back tension because they help you unwind your spine and your hips.
Plus, when done right, many people agree that they can help lessen any stress and anxiety left over at the end of the day.
Supine twists offer numerous benefits outside of easing upper back pain, like:
• Stretching your back muscles and glutes
• Hydrating your spinal discs
• Lengthening, relaxing, and realigning your spine; and
• Massaging your back and hips
To do this yoga exercise to ease upper back pain, start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, and your arms resting at your sides.
Take a deep breath in, and when you exhale, bring both knees to your chest, clasping your hands around them.
Extend your left leg to the floor, keeping the other leg drawn up to your chest. Extend your right arm out along the floor, at shoulder height, and your palm facing down.
Start shifting your hips slightly to the right. Next, place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Now exhale and drop your right knee over the left side of your body.
Turn your head to the right and keep your shoulder blades pressed toward the floor, away from your ears. Hold this pose for several breaths. Bring your knees back into your chest, and repeat the process on the opposite side of your body.
Once you are finished, slowly come back to your center, bringing both knees to your chest, hug your knees, and take a few more breaths.
When performing supine stretches, remember it isn’t about how far you can stretch, it’s simply to help ease the pain and stress that’s been building up over time, specifically in your upper back.
If you’ve looked into yoga that can help ease upper back pain, between the shoulder blades, or pain in the neck, you may have noticed a common theme: breathing correctly.
Although stretching and increased movement is vital to reducing upper back pain, learning proper breathing techniques is just as, if not more important, than simply stretching.
The phrase “take a deep breath” is said with loving intent.
But, for breathing to reduce pain, stress, and anxiety, you must do two things:
1. Learn beneficial breathing techniques, and
2. Stay consistent when you practice these techniques.
In the following sections, we’re discussing how you can combine yoga stretches and proper breathing techniques to help reduce stress and anxiety manifesting itself as pain in your upper back.
Maybe you’re sitting at work, and you’re feeling the tension from the day in your upper back. You don’t have tons of time on your hands and you need to get back to work, but your focus continues to go back to the pain in your upper back.
Although you may not have time for an entire session of yoga to help ease upper back tension, you can certainly spare a few minutes to breathe and recenter your focus.
A short warm-up and breathing exercise that many people find beneficial (especially those interested in beginners yoga that may help ease upper back pain) involves opening up your chest and shoulder blades.
Something as simple as seated chest openers can do wonders for your back pain and tension.
To do this short breathing exercise, you should:
1. Start by lifting your arms to shoulder height.
2. Bend your elbows and draw your arms back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pay attention to how your chest and shoulders open up. Repeat this process for 30 seconds. This part of the exercise doesn’t necessarily build strength, but it activates movement and promotes proper breathing.
3. After you’ve warmed up your body, it’s time to practice mindful breathing. Start with breathing in through your nose for three seconds, and exhaling through your mouth for four seconds.
4. Repeat five to six times or until you begin to feel some relief in your upper back — one or two repetitions of this breathing exercise won’t have the same effects as repeating it five to six times.
Once you’ve mastered basic breathing techniques and have a few extra minutes on your hands, we recommend starting gentle stretching and breathing yoga to help ease upper back pain.
These exercises last up to five minutes and focus on enhancing your breathing and your posture through your shoulders, core, and chest.
One of the best exercises to warm up with during these gentle breathing exercises are shoulder rolls.
To do this exercise, start by:
1. Standing or sitting with your chest out, spine straight, and core engaged. Pull your shoulders back and down while looking forward.
2. Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears while keeping your back and neck straight, and without letting your shoulders collapse forward.
3. Once you shrug your shoulders as high as you comfortably can, then squeeze your shoulders together, pulling them back.
4. Pull your shoulders back down while engaging your mid-back.
5. As your shoulders come back to starting positing, round your upper back slightly, pushing your shoulders forward.
6. Repeat the process 10-15 times.
As you repeat this warm-up exercise, you’ll likely notice how your breathing deepens automatically — which is one of the goals of this exercise, letting your breathing come naturally. You never want to force deeper breaths.
Now, you’re ready to practice breathing. Instead of simply breathing in and out for three to four seconds as we did earlier, now we’re going to engage our core.
Place your hand on your solar plexus as you breathe in and out. Notice how your chest starts to relax as you breathe in deeper.
Once you’ve mastered inhaling through your nose for three seconds and exhaling through the mouth for four seconds, consider bumping up your breathing times. Inhale through your nose for six seconds and out of your mouth for up to eight seconds.
This warm-up and breathing exercise can easily be completed within three to five minutes.
Your workouts typically leave you feeling energized and ready to take on the world, but you may be worried that strenuous exercise could result in upper back pain the following day.
A great way to ease upper back pain with yoga is to practice a 20-minute breathing routine after your workout.
To do this, you’re going to do the same warm-up exercise we mentioned above to open up your chest and allow your body to focus on:
• Relaxing, and
• Releasing tension
Unlike the previously mentioned breathing techniques, for this exercise, you want to give yourself 20-minutes of time to refocus your energy.
If you’re still working on your breathing, start by breathing through your nose for three to four seconds, and exhaling for five to six seconds, and slowly build up to longer inhale and exhale times, keeping your core, back, and shoulders all engaged in the exercise.
Although anyone experiencing pain in any part of their body would love a quick, healthy fix, we all know that quick fixes often come with short-term results.
This is why we believe in taking the time to make the most out of your yoga and breathing routines.
Here are our top four tips to ensure you get the most out of the time you spend trying to decrease back pain holistically.
1. Stay consistent. Set aside time each day to practice breathing and yoga to help ease upper back pain. Consider making your breathing routine part of a morning ritual or connecting with a friend who can help hold you accountable by practicing breathing with you.
2. Don’t overdo it. Remember always to give yourself grace and time. It’s easy to give up on a new routine if you start too intensely. Instead, start slow and celebrate small victories as you adjust. Don’t rush the process.
3. Practice self-love. Many people who are suffering from back pain are dealing with stress and anxiety built up within their bodies, and it manifests itself as pain. Value yourself. Make time for yourself — everyone deserves 15 minutes a day for a better quality of life.
4. Get expert guidance. Learning how your body manifests emotions as pain and learning mindful practices and relaxation techniques don’t come naturally to many, which might be why 1 in 10 Americans regularly use prescription painkillers.
At Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi, our classes combine different elements from numerous Eastern practices that can help enhance your physical, mental, and energetic health.
Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi can help you:
• Ease symptoms of your upper back pain
• Practice mindful breathing and relaxation techniques, and
• Focus on the things that really matter — rather than how much pain you are in.
Are you ready to take a more holistic approach to your health and well-being? We’re ready to help.
Join us today to get a private introductory session so one of our expert team members can help you make a plan to achieve your health and wellness goals for upper back pain management.