Relieve Middle Back Pain with 2 Easy Stretches
Are you someone who spends long hours standing? Often you can develop a tight feeling in between the shoulder blades and sometimes this can become quite painful. This is also a common condition among desk workers and people who often carry heavy equipment such as manual labourers. In some rare cases, pain in this region can be caused by problems with the gallbladder, cancer, or infection.
Here are some of my favourite stretches to start with to improve the range of motion of this area. Often times, once the range of motion is restored, and you learn ways to take the pressure off by modifying your activities, the pain and/or stiffness can be completely eliminated.
What is the Thoracic Spine?
The mid back is also known as the thoracic spine. It is the region of the spine where the ribs are attached and its role is to support the movement of head and neck as well as movement of lower body. In addition, the thoracic spine has a vital role in protecting the heart, lungs, and other vital organs. It gets stiff due to lack of movement in our society of sitting, driving, sleeping, and more sitting.
How Do I Stretch This Area?
The following two exercises should be repeated daily for optimal results. Be sure not to push into pain, and just take the stretches to the point of a mild discomfort. You should notice some relief immediately if the exercises are right for you.
The Chair Middle Back Mobilisation
This is one of my personal favourite mobilisation techniques for the mid back. Take a rolled towel - or even a foam roller if you are feeling adventurous - and place it in the region of your mid back where you are experiencing some tightness/pain. Next, slowly arch your upper back against the upper edge of the backrest of the chair. Repeat 15-20 repetitions.
You can repeat this stretch several times per day if it feels good and relieves the stiffness and pain.
The Side Lying Thoracic Spine Mobilisation
Another great one is the side lying thoracic spine mobilisation. This exercise improves the movement of your mid back region in the rotation direction.
Start by lying on your side with your knees stacked on top of each other and bent to about 90 degrees. With your arms initially together, raise your upper arm tracing an arc and look at your hand during the movement. Stop when you reach a sensation of tightness or pain, and return back to the start position. I recommend repeating 10-15 repetitions per direction and incorporating this into your nightly stretching routine.
Photos from www.hep2go.com
Nadir Mawji is a Registered Physiotherapist at The Clinic. You can learn more about him here.