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3 Exercise to Relieve Upper Back Pain

Why you get upper back pain | What you can do | 3 ways to find pain relief | How the exercises work | What if the pain returns | Takeaways

Why upper back pain keeps returning

However your pain began it’s often most frustrating that it keeps coming back.

The pain may not even too bad at first, but over time as it keeps returning it can become worse. You may notice that the back pain moves around, or keeps coming back in the same place.

The more this cycle repeats the more it gets worse. How can we break this cycle?


Perhaps we are slouched over looking at our phone or stuck at our desk working and after a while we find ourselves rounding our back and triggering our back pain.

How do we stop this?

Yes, everyone knows we must sit up straight with better posture, but as time goes on this becomes hard to maintain. How we we maintain a better posture?


You can begin by holding nothing at all and simply doing this movement.

You’ll see above that this movement is uncurling the spine, rib cage and both shoulders OUT of the forward rounded position.

If we find we are repeatedly stuck in the rounded, slouched position we need to counter that with the opposite movement.

Adding in the elastic band reinforces this improved position of the upper back, shoulders and spine by targeting the muscles of the upper back and rotator cuff.

This second variation allows more range of motion upwards and downwards.

Adding more weight to the movement is what helps to reinforce proper posture.


  1. Sit with your weights (or band) in hand.

  2. Raise the arms up and elbows back above 90 degrees

  3. Open the chest up at the top of the movement

  4. Squeeze the shoulder blades at the top of the movement

  5. Slowly lower the weights (controlling the descent)

  6. Repeat for 15-20 repetitions

The only thing at changes is the amount of weight you move.

Whether it’s a dumbbells, soup cans, plates, elastics bands or the weight of your arms does not matter. What matters is that you are challenging your muscles to adapt in new ways.


Movement under tension. This exercises aims at targeting not only the muscles but the position that is opposite of the slouched forward position we catch ourselves falling into so often.

Rather than having our chest down we are lifting it up.

Rather than having our head forward we are shifting it tall and upright.

Rather than having our spine curved forward we are reversing it backwards.

Rather than having our shoulder blades tilt up we are squeezing them together.

And by adding the tension of the weight we reinforce these positions. Not that we want to stay in them forever, but it’s vital to give your body more options when you are in pain.

Seeking professional help is always wise, but you’ll be surprised how much you can change if you continue to persist.


You can do more about your upper back pain than you may realize. Be patient and stick with these exercises for a month. Do them at least 3 times a week. Go slow at the beginning and really notice the various pieces we discussed above. If you can get really good at this movement your upper back pain doesn’t stand a chance.

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