Some of the reasons most people have upper back pain can be from being in a hunched over position for long periods. This can be from something like a long bike ride, or being hunched over at their office desk for the entire day. This position can strain the upper part of the back and it becomes painful and irritated between the shoulder blades and neck. When this happens it can definitely alter how you are able to move, and what you can do without pain.
What is happening?
Muscles like to be moved. When held in this hunched position for long periods of time, the muscles of the upper back, neck, and shoulders get overstretched and this makes them irritated.
How to fix it:
Simple stretches and exercises can help with upper back strains. What we want to do is think of opposite motions to address this to decrease the pain, and get those muscles working.
–Thread the Needle: Staring on all fours, bring one arm all the way up toward the sky, rotating your trunk. Then bring your arm back down and under your torso and reach for the opposing side of the arm you are using. This will help to get as much motion and movement within those muscles as you can. Sometimes this may make your back pop, and that’s okay. With this movement you want to stretch into tightness, but not too aggressively that it becomes pinchy and painful. Make sure to do this with both arms.
Thoracic Extension: Using a foam roller, place it horizontally on your upper back, then hands behind your head to support your neck. Lean back to get a big stretch, and come all the way back up. Do this 25 times 30 times this will help to get some motion in the upper back and neck area. If you don’t have a foam roller you can use a rolled up towel instead.
What can you do to prevent it?
If your pain is caused from working at your desk, the best thing to do is make sure that your set-up allows for good posture, instead of needing to be hunched over. The computer should be directly in front of you, so you don’t have to tilt your head down, your keyboard and mouse should be close so you aren’t reaching far forward, and you’re staying in an upright posture. Every 30 minutes or so, take 15-30 seconds to stretch backwards or stand up and walk briefly. This may seem like a little thing but it can help tremendously.
If biking is what gives you pain, your handlebars may be too low or your seat may be too far back. Having a bike fit by a professional can really help prevent or reduce any injuries and keep you out on the trails. If this is something you’re interested in, give us a call today to schedule with Dr. Jordan who is able to perform these fittings.
Any other activities that specifically cause your upper back pain? Try the exercises and see if changing your back positioning helps. If not, leave a comment or give us a call and we can discuss how to reduce pain with your other activities.
If you try these changes and stretches to help your upper back pain, we would love to hear about it! Give us a call today.