What causes mid-back tightness?
Blame it on the 21st Century. A long day sitting in front of a computer or in any other office position can leave your back feeling like a sprung Slinky. Mid-back stretches have become popular with professional trainers as a way to relieve tightness. You can pay a pro to teach you how to relieve back discomfort. But, it’s better to allow Trainer Z-M Gildshire to take you through the steps of some of our favorite stretches? The first couple are for overall back maintenance. Or the question we are most often asked,
How do I stretch my middle back?
Start with simple cat-cow movements. These gentle spine movements warm the back up for more difficult movement while releasing nagging mid-back stiffness.
- Begin on your hands and knees, as pictured above. Your wrists should be directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. If this position is not comfortable, feel free to put a blanket under your knees for a softer landing surface.
- Open your fingers as wide as they will comfortably spread, while distributing your weight evenly on your hands. Protect your wrists from carrying too much by pressing your palms into the ground.
- Inhale, gently pushing your pelvis up and your chest forward, at the same time dipping your stomach down and your face up.
- Exhale, and arch your back (this is where the cat imagery comes in), tuck in your pelvis, and let your head hang loose.
- Repeat 4-7 times. Feel your spine start to open, and allow your stretches to grow deeper as you get warmer.
How do you relieve middle back pain?
A passive backbend can be a way to relieve pain while still being a gentle workout. Hold this position for three minutes. This variation of a passive backbend uses props you have at home, but use yoga blocks if you have them.
- Place a soft roll (yoga mat, blanket, thick towel, etc.) on your floor.
- Rest your shoulder blades on the roll, but if you use two yoga blocks, place one under your shoulders, and the second under your head.
- Relax into the posture, placing a second blanket under your head as a pillow if necessary. Keep your breath long and deep.
Is there one exercise that can help relieve both pain and everyday tightness?
A good combo exercise that can both strengthen the back and relieve back pain is the Cobra Pose. Lie face down, with your chin on your mat, and place your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
- Inhale, and curl your chest upward, engaging the muscles in your back. *Pro-tip: Lift your hands up momentarily as a test for how much you are actually using your back.
- Gradually press your hands. That will deepen the stretch. But, remember that 95% of your bend should come from your back, with a very little extra push coming from your hands. Hold for two breaths and release. Repeat twice more.
While none of these exercises will strengthen your back like a full day of planting peas, they should help make your back feel a little better. If I remember right, you don’t care for peas, anyway.