4 Mid Back Pain Relief Exercises You Can Do Anywhere Without Getting On The Floor

Do You Get Mid Back Pain Just Below The Shoulder Blades?

While not as common as lower back pain, middle back pain can still be incredibly annoying. But fortunately, in most cases, it's not serious, and with the proper treatment, it can be easily managed.

Watch the video to learn 4 mid back pain relief exercises that you can do just about anywhere without having to get down on the floor. As a bonus, you don't need any equipment to do them other than a chair.

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What Causes Mid Back Pain?

Before we get started into the mid back pain relief exercises, it's helpful to first understand what causes midback pain in the first place.

Your middle back normally should have a little bit of a forward rounding or kyphosis curve.

mid back kyphosis

The lower part of your thoracic spine is often subject to excessive rounding and stiffness.

Ironically though, when you have pain right in the mid back right over the spine, it's usually caused by areas that are moving too much rather than too little.

Conversely, if your mid back pain on more of the sides of your spine, that's usually due to muscles, or possibly a problem with where the ribs join with your spine.

Thoracic spine and ribs

When Should I Worry About Mid Back Pain?

Most of the time, mid back pain is just from muscle and joint problems and is not serious.

However, there are some times when it can be serious and you do need to worry about it.

For example, it can be referred from your digestive organs such as your liver, gallbladder, stomach, or pancreas.

If you notices that your mid back pain occurs after eating or after you eat certain foods, make sure to talk to your doctor about it.

Additionally, if you have osteoporosis, you can also develop fractures in your mid back (thoracic spine).

If your pain is located centrally right over the  spine and came on suddenly, a fracture could be a concern. That's especially true in post-menopausal women.

So do your due diligence in ruling out these more serious causes, but more often then not, you don't need to worry about mid back pain unless it's not getting any better.

The mid back pain relief exercises in this video are going to help the run-of-the-mill mechanical middle back pain.

If they don't relieve your mid back pain, make sure to follow up with a healthcare professional.

Mid Back Pain Relief Exercise 1

The first exercise one is going to impove thoracic rotation.

Your thoracic spine does three basic movements:

  1. Rotation
  2. Flexion / Extension (Forward / Backward)
  3. Sidebending

Because of your rib cage, sidebending is somewhat limited.

So the first exercise is going to be to address rotation.

Because of the way that the joints in your thoracic spine are oriented, they move very smoothly in a direction of rotation.

Upper Thoracic Facets

Anatomy Standard,  Licensed by Creative Commons 4.0 

Therefore, rotation is often a good way to get your thoracic spine warmed up and loosened up.

To do that, just cross your arms across your chest and twist from your shoulders.

mid back pain relief exercise 1 - seated thoracic rotation

Just make it a gentle, easy twist back and forth. Do what feels easy and comfortable.

You don't want to push it.

You also don't want to rotate as far as you can possibly go because that rotates more through your lower back.

While the thoracic joints are made to rotate well, your lower back or lumbar joints are not made to rotate.

ThoracoLumbar Facets

Anatomy Standard,  Licensed by Creative Commons 4.0 

So again, just cross your arms, just easy back and forth twisting from side to side.

Now you may notice that it's easier to go to one side than the other.

It often will be easier to twist to one side than the other if you have a problem in the joints in your thoracic spine.

Just go through the range of motion that feels easy, and as you go back and forth like that through several repetitions—10, 15, 20 repetitions each direction—you should notice that you gradually start to loosen up.

Again though, this is not a "no pain, no gain" type of exercise. Just do what feels easy.

Mid Back Pain Relief Exercise 2

The next exercise is more to help with thoracic extension.

Remember, the thoracic spine is normally a little bit more rounded forward.

Therefore, going forwards (flexion) is usually easy for most people, but going backward (extension) may be difficult.

Many people will use a foam roller on the floor to improve thoracic extension.

Mid back pain relief exercises with a foam roller

Using a foam roller can be a good mid back pain relief exercise.

However, if you have trouble getting down on the floor, then a foam roller may not necessarily be the best exercise for you.

Additionally, if you have a lot of arthritis in your spine, a foam roller can sometimes be really uncomfortable.

So here's an alternative mid back extension exercise that you can do anywhere.

Again, the only equipment you'll need is a chair.

To do this exercise, you're going to grab onto the back of the chair like this and then just walk your feet backward.

mid back pain relief exercise 2 - thoracic extension with chair

As you lower your head downwards, you get extension through the mid back. This exercise gives you a nice, passive stretch to help you get more thoracic extension.

Hold this for 30-60 seconds.

This helps you regain that thoracic extension mobility that you need to stand more upright.

It also helps before moving into the next exercise, which is going to use your own muscles to extend your back.

Mid Back Pain Relief Exercise 3

To do this exercise, sit in a chair and lean forwards, bringing your chest as close to your knees as you can.

This puts your lower back into a position of forward bending or flexion.

That's important because if you just go into extension from a seated position, it's very likely that you're going to extend from your lower back rather than your middle back.

So lean forwards with your arms crossed across your chest. Then just think about lifting your shoulders up while leaving your belly down towards your thighs.

Mid back pain relief exercise 3 - seated thoracic extension

Lifting up and hold 5 to 10 seconds before returning to the starting position.

Ideally, you want to keep your neck kind of in a neutral position (looking down).

You don't want to look up because that can create some neck problems.

That exercise helps improve active extension through your mid back.

Mid Back Pain Relief Exercise 4

The fourth exercise is more of an unloading exercise.

This exercise helps lift the weight of your shoulders and your arms and your shoulder blades off of your middle back.

To do that, reach up in the air as high as you can go comfortably.

Mid back pain relief exercise 4 - Seated shoulder flexion

This exercise uses your upper trapezius muscles or your neck muscles to help unload your shoulder blades and stretch the latissimus dorsi and lower trapezius (dark red)

This exercise also helps unload your spine.

Hold the arms raised position of this exercise for 5 to 10 seconds.

Then return to the starting position and repeat for 5 to 10 repetitions.

The actual number of repetitions isn't that important.

It's more important that you do the exercises regularly.

Doing these mid back pain relief exercises daily can help you feel better.  And, there's really no excuse not do to them because you can do them just about anywhere.

However, doing exercises is only one component in relieving mid back pain.

You need to find out what caused your mid back pain in the first place and address the root cause so that it doesn't keep coming back in the future.

Need More Help For Mid Back Pain?

If you live in the St. Louis area and need help for mid back pain, tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.

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