Writer: JESSICA TIMMONS | Outlet: Mind Body Green
Fancy ergonomic chair or not, spend any length of time at your desk—or slumped on the sofa with your laptop or phone—and you’ll start to feel the effects. Tension between the shoulder blades, tightness in the upper back and shoulders, and pain radiating along the neck are all symptoms of sitting for too long. Not to mention, you may notice other side effects like bad posture, neck strain, circulation issues, and even shallow breathing. And you’re not alone: The American Chiropractic Association reports that half of all working Americans experience back pain symptoms, and as much as 80% of the population will deal with back problems at some point in their lives. Factor in our largely sedentary lifestyles, and it starts to make sense.
Here’s the good news. In addition to keeping our muscles flexible and strong, stretching can help alleviate pain and tension so you can get on with your life. We spoke with Lynelle McSweeney, D.C., a holistic chiropractor in Reno, Nevada, for her input on the value of stretching and the most effective stretches for upper back pain.
Best stretches for upper back pain.
Effectively stretching the upper back to relieve tightness and tension doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You can do almost all of these stretches right at your desk or sofa, in just a few minutes. And that’s a good thing, because you don’t want to overdo it. McSweeney recommends incorporating these stretches several times a day at most. “Over-aggressive stretching can exhaust the muscles and actually increase pain and tension,” she says. “In extreme cases, too much or too-rigorous stretching can damage ligaments and muscles, too.”
- Levator scapulae stretch
- Upper butterfly stretch
- Lat side stretch
- W retract
- Seated cat cow
- Child's pose