Mid-back pain can be annoying and debilitating. Thankfully, many effective mid-back stretches can help relieve pain and improve mobility. In this article, we will discuss the top 7 most beneficial mid-back stretches to incorporate into your routine for pain relief.
What Causes Mid Back Pain?
Before we get into the stretches, let’s first understand what can cause pain in the mid-back region. Here are some of the most common culprits:
- Poor Posture– Slouching, hunching over, or not maintaining proper spine alignment puts extra strain on the mid-back muscles leading to pain and stiffness.
- Muscle Strains– Overuse injuries from repetitive motions or sports can cause muscles in the mid back to become strained.
- Bulging Discs– Discs between the vertebrae can bulge or rupture causing irritation and inflammation of nearby nerves.
- Arthritis– Spinal arthritis is a degeneration of the vertebrae and discs leading to bone spurs and narrowing of spaces. This causes chronic mid-back pain.
- Osteoporosis– Weak, brittle bones from low bone density compress and fracture easier leading to pain.
- Spinal Stenosis– Narrowing of the spinal column puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
Benefits of Mid Back Stretches
Stretching the mid back can help alleviate pain and improve function in many ways:
- Relieves muscle tension, spasms, tightness, and trigger points
- Improves flexibility allowing for a greater range of motion
- Reduces stiffness that can occur after long periods of sitting
- Helps correct muscle imbalances or postural dysfunctions
- Decompresses the spine taking pressure off discs, joints, and nerves
- Increases blood flow to bring oxygen and nutrients to heal tissues
- Prevents future injuries and strains from tight muscles
When performed regularly, stretching can help manage mid-back discomfort and improve strength and mobility long-term. Always warm up first before static stretching. Move slowly and gently into each stretch until mild tension – avoid pushing into pain. Hold for 30-60 seconds relaxing into the stretch and breathing deeply. Repeat 2-3 times per stretch.
Now let’s get into the top 7 most beneficial stretches for the mid back!
- Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a resting yoga pose that provides a gentle but deep stretch along the entire back side of the body including the mid back.
How to Do It:
- Kneel on the ground and sit back on your heels. Toes should be together behind you.
- Lean forward bringing your chest down towards your thighs as you reach arms extend forwards.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds breathing deeply and relaxing shoulders down away from ears.
- To intensify, reach one arm overhead stretching the side further. Switch arms and repeat.
- Extends spine including mid-back muscles
- Opens shoulders, chest, and hips
- Helps relieve lower back pain
- Cat-Cow Pose
Cat-cow pose is a yoga flow that alternates between arching and rounding of the spine to mobilize the mid back.
How to Do It:
- Start on hands and knees with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
- Breathe in and drop your belly toward the floor arching back up – shoulder blades pinched together (cow pose).
- Breathe out and raise your head pulling the belly button in rounding back toward the ceiling (cat pose).
- Repeat 5-10 times slowing with breath.
- Flexes and extends vertebrae and spinal muscles
- Engages core
- Improves posture
- Sphinx Pose
The sphinx pose applies mild pressure along the front of the torso to open up the chest and stretch the mid and upper back.
How to Do It:
- Lie on your stomach with your legs extended and the tops of your feet on the floor. The forehead can rest on the ground.
- Engaging my core, tuck my elbows in my ribs and use my arms to gently lift my chest off the floor.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds relaxing shoulder blades down. Avoid overarching lower back.
- For added intensity, straighten your arms into a low cobra pose.
- Extends mid-back muscles between shoulder blades
- Opens chest and shoulders
- Strengthens back if arms are extended
- Seated Spinal Twist
Twisting motions extend the mid back increasing side-to-side mobility of the torso. Try this seated twist.
How to Do It:
- Sit upright with legs extended. Bend right knee placing foot outside left knee.
- Place right hand behind sacrum with a left arm across right thigh using an elbow to press into a twist.
- Turn upper body to right looking over right shoulder. Hold and repeat on the opposite side.
- Rotates thoracic vertebrae and rib cage
- Opens shoulders and back muscles
- Improves spinal mobility
- Mid Back Foam Roll
Foam rolling uses body weight pressure to release tight muscles and myofascial trigger points. Target the mid back with this technique:
How to Do It:
- Lie face up with foam roll under mid back. Bend knees placing feet on the floor.
- Cross arms over chest. Engage the core by pressing low back into the floor.
- Roll slowly up and down mid back from low to upper region. Apply extra pressure to tender spots.
- Roll for 30-90 seconds then repeat on the other side. Can bend knees to adjust pressure.
- Releases tight thoracic back muscles
- Alleviates myofascial tension and spasms
- Improves extension and rotation
- Standing Side Stretch
Loosening the sides of the torso helps improve posture and spinal mobility. Do this stretch standing:
How to Do It:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart. Reach right arm straight up overhead.
- Lean your torso to the left side bending from the waist. Hold stretch feeling lengthening along right side body.
- Place right hand on hip or reach further intensifying stretch. Hold 20-30 seconds.
- Return to the center and repeat for the left side.
- Expands intercostal muscles between ribs
- Opens obliques and latissimus dorsi
- Prevents hunching posture
- Upper Trapezius Stretch
The trapezius muscles between the neck and shoulders commonly contribute to mid-back tightness. Stretch them with:
How to Do It:
- Sit or stand with right arm reaching across chest holding left arm.
- Gently pull left arm with right to turn head left stretching right trapezius muscles.
- Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Can place a hand on the head to increase intensity.
- Releases upper trapezius trigger points
- Relieves tension headaches
- Corrects shoulder and neck posture
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I have pain or injuries – should I still stretch?
If you have any concerns, it’s best to consult your healthcare professional to evaluate if these stretches are appropriate for your unique condition. Those with injuries, joint instability, osteoporosis, or recent trauma should take caution when stretching and possibly avoid certain techniques that aggravate symptoms. Communicate your limitations so stretches can be adapted to your needs.
How often should I stretch my mid back?
Aim to stretch the mid back muscles at least 2-3 times per week for pain prevention and maintenance. Those experiencing more severe or chronic mid-back pain may need to stretch daily for 10-30 minutes to see results in pain and mobility. Stretches can be split up over the day or done all at once.
What stretches should I avoid with mid-back pain?
Avoid overarching backbends that compress the spine if you have disc injuries or spinal stenosis. Extend the back gently keeping the neck and lower back neutral. Skip twisting motions if you have an acute muscle strain until it has time to heal. Always modify stretches to your body’s comfort level.
Will stretching provide permanent relief in my mid back?
Stretching can help manage mid-back pain but may not resolve the underlying cause. While it provides short-term relief, stretches work best when paired with strengthening exercises, massage, bracing, and any other treatments recommended by your doctor or physical therapist. Maintaining good posture and core strength also prevents future tightness and pain.
How do I know if I’m stretching correctly?
Stretching should produce mild tension without sharp pain. Focus on taking full belly breaths and relaxing deeper into the stretch over time. Engage core muscles to protect the lower back. Avoid “bouncing” into stretches – ease slowly into the proper position. Ensure proper spinal alignment without overarching. Stretch gently within your range of motion.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting a new stretching routine, especially if you have ongoing pain or injuries. Only perform stretches suitable and comfortable for your condition.
The mid-back is prone to tightness and pain from poor posture, strains, and trigger points. Regular stretching helps decompress the spine, open the torso and shoulders, and improve mobility. These 7 mid-back stretches can be easily incorporated into daily routines to alleviate discomfort and strengthen the back long-term.
Some key takeaways include:
- Try gentle backbends like a child’s pose and sphinx to extend the spine.
- Cat-cow flows and twists increase mid-back mobility.
- Foam rolling targets tight muscles and myofascial adhesions.
- Stretch the sides with lateral stretches to improve posture.
- Release upper trapezius tension from the shoulders and neck.
Be patient and consistent with stretching, moving slowly and gently into tension. With time, you’ll stand taller, turn easier, and hopefully find relief from persistent mid-back pain and tightness!
Mustafa Al Mahmud is a passionate medical writer and health enthusiast. He is excited to share his knowledge and make reliable health information more accessible through Quick Medico. Mustafa aims to write about common diseases, medications, wellness topics, and the latest health research in easy-to-understand language. He believes clear and accurate health communication empowers readers to take charge of their well-being. In his free time, Mustafa enjoys hiking, cooking, and spending time with his family.