stiff upper back exercises

10 Best Exercises for A Stiff Upper Back

If you want to relieve upper back pain and improve your posture, this article will show you the best exercises for a stiff upper back.

We all know that lower back pain is a major issue. But most people are not aware that their upper backs are stiff.

What’s worse is that ignoring upper back stiffness can cause back pain, neck pain, poor posture, and headaches.

A stiff upper back forces the thoracic spine to be curved. This strains the neck and forces the head to stick forward, lead to the forward head posture.

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Upper back stiffness is caused by poor sitting posture and slouching. Habits like texting, using PC, and watching TV are also to blame.

Now, you don’t have to change your lifestyle to avoid upper back stiffness. Use the exercise below to eliminate upper back stiffness and improve posture. These exercises can also help reduce neck pain.

Best Exercises for A Stiff Upper Upper Back

In this article, you will discover the best exercises for a stiff upper back #stiff #upper #back #exercises #flabfix

Upper back ball self-massage

You can use a massage ball or tennis ball to reduce upper back stiffness. This exercise reverses the effects of slouching.

Perform this exercise every day if you have neck and upper back pain.

How to perform

Lie on your back then place two tennis balls in the middle of the upper back (between the shoulder blades).

Relax your shoulders and rest your hands on the floor.

Slowly move your body left to right for a few seconds.

Stretch your hands out in the air for 5 seconds then lower them and rest your hands on the floor again.

Upper back foam rolling

A foam roller can also help reduce tension in the upper back. But avoid foam rolling the lower back since it can worsen back pain.

Note that you may experience discomfort but if you experience sharp pain stop.

We recommend this foam roller.

How to perform

Lie on your back and place the foam roller slight below the shoulders.

Bend your knees and bring your heels close to the thighs.

Lift your butt off the floor then slowly slide back until the foam roller rolls to the middle of the back.

Slowly role back to starting position and repeat.

Repeat this movement for 30 seconds then rest and do 2 more sets.

Beware that, foam rolling the same spot for too long (5 minutes) can damage the tissue.

Kneeling bridge

The back bridge is one of the best exercises for a stiff upper back. Unfortunately, most people are not strong or flexible enough to perform it.

The kneeling bridge is an easier variation that most people can do. It’ll reduce tension in the upper back and help straighten it.

How to perform

Kneel on a yoga mat and place your hands on the hips.

Gently bend your upper back backward as much as you can. Avoid moving the hips when bending the back.

Hold the stretch for 2 seconds then rise to starting position and repeat.

Do at least 10 reps then rest and repeat.

Butterfly wings

This exercise strengthens the upper back muscles and increases shoulder flexibility.

How to perform

Sit or stand upright and then bend your elbows and place your fingertips on your shoulders.

Gently pull your elbows back as much as you can then pull them forward until they touch.

Pull the shoulders back again and repeat 10 times.

Arm side stretch

The arm side stretch is a simple exercise anyone can perform. It will loosen the upper back and oblique muscles.

How to perform

Stand upright and keep your feet shoulder-width apart.

Raise the left arm straight over the head then slowly bend your torso to the right side while keeping the neck in its neutral position.

Stretch your left arm to the right side as much as you can.

Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Bend to the left side and stretch for the same duration.

Shoulder rolls

Shoulder rolls will reduce upper back stiffness and relieve tension in the trapezius muscles.

How to perform

Stand upright and keep your arms hanging on the side.

Pull your shoulders up to the ears then pull them back and then down.

Think of it as doing anti-clockwise circles with your shoulders.

Repeat this movement at least 10 times.

Inverted rows

Strengthening back muscles reduces stiffness and pain. Inverted rows activate the upper back muscles and the lats.

Pull ups are also very effective. Here’s a guide on how to do your first pull up.

Here’s how to do this exercise using a broomstick

How to perform

Place a broomstick between two chairs and leave space between the chairs.

Lie below the broomstick and brag it at a shoulder-width grip.

Tighten the core and keep the legs straight. And then pull yourself up until the chest touches the broomstick.

Slowly extend the arms until they’re almost straight and then pull up again.

Bending the knees at 90 degrees will make the exercise easier.

Knee to chest stretch

This stretch is known for relieving lower back pain but it can also help reduce upper back stiffness.

How to perform

Lie on your back and keep the left knee bent.

Grab the bent knee with both hands and pull it as close to the chest as possible.

Hold the stretch for 20 seconds.

Return the left leg to starting position then grab the right knee and pull it towards the chest.

Hold the stretch for the same duration then rest and repeat.

knee to chest stretch

Cat yoga pose

This is one of the best upper body stretches. It stretches the spine, upper back, and shoulders.

How to perform

Get in all-fours position. Keep the back straight and neck aligned in its neutral position.

Suck in your belly and raise your back as high as possible without moving the arms and legs.

Hold the stretch for 20 seconds then return to starting position, rest and repeat.

upper back stretch cat pose

Towel stretch

This is one of my favorite stretches. It relieves shoulder pain and upper back pain. You will need a long towel to perform it.

How to perform

Grab both ends a towel with a grip wider than shoulder width. Keep the hands straight.

Raise both hands over the head and bring them to your back.

Keep the hands in the back for 2 seconds then reverse the movement to return the hands to starting position. Repeat 10 times.

If you’re not flexible hold a wider grip.

upper back towel stretch

Final word

Add 2 or 3 of these exercises to your routine. They will help undo the effects of sitting and reduce upper back stiffness.

But you may need to see a doctor if you have severe neck or upper back pain.

What’s your favorite exercise for a stiff upper back?