Let’s face it: Our bodies’ design and the way we use them aren’t always compatible.
Our constant computer and phone use means that your head and eyes tend to be tilted downwards more than you want to admit, and definitely more than you probably realize. This forward, downward head position (aka “tech neck”) can take a serious toll on your body, leading to neck stiffness, upper and lower back pain, and even headaches.
Muscles of the upper back and neck can become tight and weak with sustained positions, limiting their strength potential and extensibility, and reinforcing bad postural habits. All that device usage leads to forward, rounded shoulders and the head resting far out in front of the shoulders instead of being stacked vertically on top of the torso. These positions, though comfortable in the short term, can actually change the alignment and health of your spine and often lead to aches and pains that become larger, more debilitating problems later on.
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller $59.99
The best way to combat a stiff upper back is to make time for the right stretching and strengthening routine. If you’re experiencing a aches or pains in the upper back, neck or shoulders, your posture is probably to blame.
Try incorporating these stretches to unwind and open up your chest, back, and shoulders before a small ache or pain becomes a bigger problem. For some of these stretches, you’ll need a foam roller. If you don’t have one, we like this one from TriggerPoint, or any of these options.
- Cat-cow Stretch
- Side-lying Thoracic Rotation
- Child’s Pose with Rotation
- Thoracic Extension Over Foam Roller/Chair
- Pec Stretches on Foam Roller
- Doorway Stretch
- Sphinx Pose
- 5 Exercises for Upper and Middle Back Pain
- Press-up exercise
- Cat-cow pose
- Opposite arm/leg raise
- Corner stretch
- Prone cobra
- Learn more:
- 1. Thread the Needle
- 2. Upper Trap Stretch With Head Circles
- 3. Side-Lying Windmills
- 4. Thoracic Cat-Cow
- 5. Prone Cactus
- 6. Sleeper Stretch
- 7. Cow-Face Pose
- 8. Eagle Pose
- 9. Clasp Behind Back
- 10. Child’s Pose Lat Stretch
- 11. Inverted Plank/Bridge
- 12. Arm Circles
- Owl Neck
- Seated Neck Bend
- Eagle-Arms Pose
- Seated Mountain Pose
- Open Chest Stretch
- Open Book Stretch
- Shoulder-Opener Stretch
- Staff-Pose Variation
- Fix Your Posture
- 3 Poses To Eliminate Pain In Between The Shoulder Blades
- WHAT CAUSES PAIN IN BETWEEN THE SHOULDER BLADES?
- 3 POWERFUL POSES FOR REVERSING POOR POSTURE
- YOUR 5 VIDEOS TO RELIEVE UPPER BACK PAIN
- OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO
- Try This: 17 Exercises to Relieve Upper Back Pain, Neck Pain, and More
The cat-cow stretch is actually two stretches in one, and a great way to self-mobilize your thoracic spine (the upper part of your back). By moving through these two poses, you can gently mobilize each vertebra so that the small bones move the way they are supposed to for daily activities and do not become too rigid and stiff.
To perform: Begin in quadruped (hands and knees) with knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Inhale as you move your sit bones up towards the ceiling, arching the back and pressing the chest towards the floor as you lift the head up. Relaxing the shoulder blades behind you. From there, inhale as you move from this “cow” position to an angry “cat” position, rounding out your back and pushing shoulder blades away from you as your spine forms a “C” curve in the opposite direction. Go through this cycle 10 times.
Side-lying Thoracic Rotation
One of the upper back movements required for healthy mobility is rotation. With so much of life happening in an anterior-posterior or sagittal plane, the ability to twist and rotate can become limited. This stretch is a great way to improve rotation in your spine.
Begin by lying on your left side with knees bent and arms straight out in front of you, palms touching. Gently lift your right hand straight up off of the left hand, opening up the arm like it’s a book or door while following the top hand with your head and eyes until your right hand is on the other side of your body, palm up, with your head and eyes turned towards the right. Hold this stretch for a few breaths before returning to the starting position with palms facing each other. Repeat up to 10 times on each side.
Child’s Pose with Rotation
Child’s pose stretches multiple muscles in the back, while also targeting the hips and even ankles.
To perform, begin on your hands and knees. Spread your knees apart while keeping your toes touching, then gently lower your hips forward towards the ground with arms outstretched in front of you. Keep your arms extended forward with palms down on the floor, lengthening the lower back. Hold this pose for several breaths.
For an added stretch, bring both hands to one side in front of you, lengthening the lats and muscles of the opposite side of your body. Repeat by reaching to the other side after a good stretch is felt. Hold each of these poses up to 30 seconds. Note: If you have pain in your knees or hips, try performing this pose while seated on a pillow or folded blanket, or try using a foam roller under your palms to make the stretch more comfortable.
Thoracic Extension Over Foam Roller/Chair
Reverse the curve of your upper back by moving your body in the opposite direction. Find a foam roller or use the back of a chair to perform this instantly relieving stretch. If using a foam roller, place the foam roller perpendicular to your torso. Sit in front of the foam roller, and gently hammock the head with your hands, interlocking the fingers and supporting the weight of your head without pulling it.
Lean backwards so that your upper back is reaching backwards over the foam roller. Gently allow your shoulders to reach towards the floor while the foam roller supports your upper back. Carefully lift the hips to roll up and down the muscles of the upper back or move the foam roller up and inch after each stretch, leaning backwards over the roller until a gentle stretch is felt. Repeat several times, without forcing your body into discomfort. This stretch can be very intense, so start with small movement and don’t spend more than a couple minutes in this position.
Pec Stretches on Foam Roller
Tight pecs can contribute to rounded shoulders and a tight upper back.
Stretch the muscles by lying on a foam roller with arms outstretched like the letter T or W. Hold for about 30 seconds in each position.
If you can’t find a foam roller, try using the walls of a standard doorway to stretch out the pecs.
Bring each forearm up against one side of the doorway. Gently lean forward through the doorway keeping the arms on one side to stretch out the chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
Open up the chest and back by lying on the floor and propping yourself up on your forearms.
As you inhale, gently press your forearms into the floor and lift the head and chest up. Draw your shoulders blades down and back and lengthen your tailbone. Hold for 30 seconds.
Dr. Rachel Tavel, PT, DPT, CSCS Dr Rachel Tavel, PT, DPT, CSCS is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, health and fitness writer, and runner who works as a PT at Shift Wellness in New York City.
5 Exercises for Upper and Middle Back Pain
Pain in the upper and/or middle back can be quite limiting and interfere with daily activities. To help alleviate this pain, consider stretching and strengthening the muscles that support your thoracic spine (upper and mid back). Here are 5 common exercises to try.
See Early Treatments for Upper Back Pain
This press-up or back extension exercise targets your back extensor muscles, which are attached to the back of your spine.
- Lie on the stomach with your hands under your shoulders.
- Raise your upper body onto your elbows while keeping both forearms and hips relaxed on the ground. Breathe out and allow your chest to sink toward the ground. You should feel a comfortable stretch in your mid back.
- Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly return to the floor.
- Aim to complete 10 repetitions. Gradually build to hold the position for 30 seconds.
A more advanced Step 2 involves raising your upper body onto your hands (rather than forearms) while still keeping both hips relaxed on the ground. In yoga, this is called the cobra pose.
The cat-cow pose is a gentle stretch that can help ease the pain in your middle back.
- Get down on all fours with knees and hands on the floor. The back and neck should be in a neutral, straight position.
- Slowly tighten lower abdominals, rounding the back towards the ceiling and tucking your chin. You should feel a stretch along your spine.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
- Release and return to neutral position.
- Slowly lift your head, chest and tailbone toward the ceiling, letting your spine and stomach sink toward the ground. This should also produce a comfortable stretch in your spine.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
- Release and return to neutral position.
Alternate between the two poses.
Opposite arm/leg raise
This exercise, sometimes called the bird-dog pose in yoga, strengthens your abdominals and back muscles.
- Get on your hands and knees. Keep your spine straight, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees aligned directly under your hips.
- Slowly reach out with one arm while extending the leg on its opposite side. Keep both straight and level.
- Hold for a few deep breaths, then gently lower your arm and leg to starting position.
- Repeat this exercise with your other arm/leg.
- If you had a tissue box balanced on your lower back it should remain in place throughout the exercise.
Try for 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.
Upper back pain is often due to poor posture, which may be exacerbated by tight chest muscles. The corner stretch is an easy and effective way to open up the chest muscles and encourage healthy posture.
- Face the corner of a room.
- Position feet together, about 2 feet away from the corner.
- Place a forearm on each wall with the elbows slightly below shoulder height.
- Lean forward until a good stretch is felt across the chest and shoulders. Your lower back should remain neutral (as it is while standing).
- Hold the stretch 30 to 60 seconds.
If a corner is not available, another option is to perform this stretch in a doorway by placing the forearms on the door jambs (sides of the door frame). This stretch can be performed 3 to 5 times throughout the day.
The prone cobra is an advanced back extension exercise that targets your upper back muscles:
- Lie on the floor face down. You may place the forehead on a rolled-up hand towel for comfort.
- Place the arms at the side, palms down on the floor
- Pinch the shoulder blades together and lift the hands off the floor. Keep shoulders down and away from ears.
- Roll the elbows in, palms out and thumbs up.
- Gently lift the forehead about an inch off the towel keeping the eyes looking straight at the floor (do not tip the head back and look forward).
- Try to hold the position for 10 seconds.
- Aim to complete 10 repetitions.
To increase the intensity slightly, you can lift your legs off the ground, too.
Exercise should push your body (whether a feeling of stretch or fatigue) but not leave you feeling increased symptoms at rest. Stop immediately and consult with your health care provider if any of these exercises increase or cause pain. A physiatrist, physical therapist, or other qualified health professional can create an exercise plan specifically tailored to treat your symptoms and underlying condition.
Back Strengthening Exercises
Stretching for Back Pain Relief
Turns out, our bodies have really bad habits, using the same muscles to do the same motions day after day…and that can make your shoulders and back feel reeeeeeal tight.
To keep your bod nice and loose, you have to get your muscles out of their rut by moving them in new directions. That keeps them flexible and makes it way less likely you’ll wreck yourself on the dreadmill or while lifting something heavy, says New York City-based Barry’s Bootcamp trainer Sarah Otey.
Here, Otey breaks down 12 shoulder stretches to relax your neck and upper back, helping you feel way less stressed and way more stretchy. Perform all the moves in order several times a week (although you could definitely do this every day, fam).
1. Thread the Needle
Start on all fours, with your toes touching and knees slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Lower your hips toward your heels. Slide your left hand along the floor behind your right wrist until your shoulder is on the floor. Hold for three to five breaths.
Reverse the movement, and lift your left arm into the air, twisting to gaze upward. That’s one rep. Continue alternating for five reps.
Get the Lewk
SHOP NOW Reveal Tight Precision, LULULEMON X BARRY’S, $79
2. Upper Trap Stretch With Head Circles
In a comfortable seated position, gently roll your head clockwise until you feel tightness in your neck. Hold that position, and gently pull your head in that direction to intensify the stretch. Hold for three to five breaths. That’s one rep. Repeat until the tension resides.
3. Side-Lying Windmills
Lie on your side with your shoulders and hips stacked. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, so your knees are directly in line with your hips. Stack your arms, and hold them straight out so they’re parallel with your thighs.
Without moving your hips or legs, circle your right arm above your head until it’s directly in line with your left. Let your chest stretch open so that your right shoulder blade touches the floor. That’s one rep. Repeat five times before switching to the other side.
4. Thoracic Cat-Cow
Start on all fours, with your toes touching and knees wider than hip-distance apart. Lower your hips toward your heels, moving your hands between your knees. Round your upper spine, and drop your head until you feel a stretch in the shoulders.
Hold for five breaths. Reverse the motion, thrusting your chest forward, arching your back, and looking upward. Hold for five breaths. That’s one rep. Repeat five times.
5. Prone Cactus
Lying facedown, bend your elbows 90 degrees so that your fingertips point forward and your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Lift your elbows and raise your forearms and palms by pushing your fingertips into the ground. Rotate your right shoulder toward the ground as you gaze over your left shoulder. Hold for three to five breaths, then switch sides. That’s one rep. Continue alternating for five reps.
6. Sleeper Stretch
Lying on your right side, bring your right elbow slightly below shoulder height and raise your forearm to point your fingers upward. Keeping your elbow on the ground, use your left hand to push your right wrist toward your belly button and down toward the ground. (It may not reach the ground). Hold for two minutes before repeating on the other side.
7. Cow-Face Pose
In a comfortable seated position or standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold your arms out to the sides so your body forms a T. Bend your right elbow so your right hand faces downward at the base of your neck, palm side down. Simultaneously bend your left elbow so that your left hand faces upward in the middle of your back. Reach your fingertips toward each other. Hold for two minutes before performing the move with opposite hand positions.
8. Eagle Pose
In a comfortable seated position or standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold your arms out in front of your chest, then place your right elbow under your left and wrap your right forearm around your left. Press your palms together in front of your forehead. Keep your elbows in line with your shoulders (or slightly higher to intensify the stretch). Hold for two minutes before switching sides.
9. Clasp Behind Back
Standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, clasp your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers. Straighten your elbows and raise your arms up as much as possible. Then, hinge at the hips to bend forward. Hold for three to five breaths.
10. Child’s Pose Lat Stretch
Start on all fours, with your toes touching and knees wider than hip-distance apart. Lower your hips toward your heels, keeping your hands between your knees. Drop your head between your elbows and lift your forearms so your palms can lie flat on the back of your shoulders. Hold for three to five breaths.
11. Inverted Plank/Bridge
Start seated with your hands by your hips, fingertips facing your toes, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Raise your butt off the ground so your body forms a straight line from your head to your knees. For a more intense stretch, straighten your knees, forming a straight line from your head to your toes. Hold for three to five breaths. That’s one rep.
12. Arm Circles
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or kneel while holding a small towel or tee in front of your chest.
Rotate your shoulders, moving the tee behind you as far as you can (if it’s too hard, widen your grip on the shirt). Hold that position for three to five breaths.
Ashley Oerman Deputy Lifestyle Director Ashley Oerman is the deputy lifestyle director at Cosmopolitan, covering fitness, health, food, cocktails, home, and entertainment.
Heads are heavy—roughly 7 to 10 percent of your body weight. That’s a big chunk of bone to carry around all day. When your head is centered on your shoulders and you allow your spine to stack naturally, your neck can easily manage the load. But if your head is off-kilter for extended periods of time, like when you’re in the saddle of a bike or craning your neck to belay, gravity and leverage begin to work against you.
The main culprit of neck and shoulder tension is poor posture—like when you’re hunching in front of a computer screen or staring down at a phone. We also hold stress in our neck and shoulders. So whether you’re an athlete or work a desk job (or worse—both), chances are you’ve experienced a few aches and pains.
We reached out to Caitlin Pascucci, a yoga teacher and the founder of Sangha Studio in Vermont, for her favorite moves to alleviate neck and shoulder tension. She suggests doing this whole series two or three times per week, after a workout session or mixed into a yoga routine. You can also choose your favorite moves and practice them daily.
What It Does: Stretches the muscle that wraps from your sternum and collarbone to behind your ear, called the sternocleidomastoid.
How to Do It: Sit upright with your spine straight, chest open, shoulders relaxed, and neck centered in a neutral position. Slowly turn your head to the right side until your chin is over the shoulder and parallel to the floor. Hold here, then tip your chin downward toward your shoulder. You can gently hold the back of your head with your right hand to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Seated Neck Bend
What It Does: Stretches the upper trapezius muscles on the side of your neck.
How to Do It: In a seated position, put your hands behind your back, interlace your fingers, and hold them (with palms together and knuckles facing forward) to one side, just above your hip bone. Slowly lean your head to the same side to ease into the stretch—you should feel it on the side of your neck between your ear and your shoulder—and hold for 30 seconds. Switch your hand position to the other side, tilt your head in that direction, and repeat.
What It Does: Stretches the back of the shoulders (deltoids) and the neck.
How to Do It: Sitting or standing, reach your arms out to each side and then cross them in front of you, left elbow over the right elbow. Bend your arms so that your hands point toward the sky, and if you have the flexibility, wrap your wrists so that your palms meet. If you can’t make full contact between your palms, place each hand on the opposite shoulder instead. Lift your elbows so that your upper arms are parallel with the floor to target the back of the shoulders. At the same time, tuck your chin toward your chest to target the back of the neck. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat from the beginning with the right arm crossed over the left.
Seated Mountain Pose
What It Does: Lengthens the shoulders, upper back, and lats.
How to Do It: Sit upright with a long spine, open chest, and relaxed shoulders. Interlace your fingers and raise your arms above your head, palms facing the sky. Continue pressing your palms to the sky to lengthen the shoulders and the upper back. Hold for ten seconds and focus on deep, slow breaths. Then exhale as you gently lean to the right side to lengthen the left latissimus dorsi muscle along the side of your body. Hold the stretch for a few seconds, inhale as you return to center, and then repeat on the other side. Continue swaying back and forth a handful of times, easing deeper into each side bend.
Open Chest Stretch
What It Does: Stretches the front of your neck and the muscles between your shoulder blades.
How to Do It: Sit cross-legged and upright with a long spine, open chest, and relaxed shoulders. Place your hands behind your head at the base of your skull, and gently tip your head back, using your hands for support. Bend your back slightly, and imagine your elbows growing heavy to pull you into the stretch.
Open Book Stretch
What It Does: Stretches the front of the shoulder, the chest, and the oblique muscles.
How to Do It: Lie on your side with your knees together and bent at a 90-degree angle, in a fetal position. Interlace your fingers behind your neck, with your elbows nearly touching (the “closed book” position). Pivot your upper elbow over and across your body, as if on a hinge, and then slowly let it sink toward the ground on the other side. Breathe deep and open your chest toward the sky. Keep your knees on the ground and pressed together throughout the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
What It Does: Stretches the shoulder and chest.
How to Do It: Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and your arms out to each side, palms to the floor. Turn your head to the right so that it’s resting on your left ear. Bring your right arm in so your elbow is pointed toward the sky and bent at roughly 90 degrees. Bend your right leg at the knee, then lift it over your body as you rotate it and your hips outward, pushing down with your right hand. Let the weight of the raised leg pull you into the stretch as it dangles toward the ground (or touches the opposite side). Hold the tension for 30 seconds as you gradually sink deeper into the stretch. Return to center, then repeat on the other side.
What It Does: Opens the chest and the front of the shoulders.
How to Do It: Sit upright with a long spine and your legs flat on the ground in front of you (if you have tight hamstrings, sit as straight as you can). Place your palms on the ground just behind your hips with your fingers facing forward. Slowly walk your hands back a few paces, then press into your hands, straighten your elbows, and lift your chest. Root down with the center of your thighs, and let your shoulder blades slide down your back as you open your chest. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and remember to take slow, deep breaths.
Fix Your Posture
These stretches will help to relieve a sore neck and shoulders, but the best solution is to stay ahead of the tension in the first place. Avoid “text neck” by holding your phone up higher and level with your eyes—or better yet, put the phone away and get outside!
If you sit at a desk for most of the day, raise your computer screen so it’s at eye level. Stack boxes underneath the monitor if need be.
Be conscious of your posture. Sit up straight, draw back your shoulders, and hold your head centered in a neutral spine position. Good posture is all too easy to forget, so Pascucci recommends that every time you get up and return to your chair, sit down consciously, with attention toward alignment, instead of mindlessly sinking back into whatever you were doing. Use that moment to check in and reset.
Filed To: ChestArmsExercisesRecoveryBend Lead Photo: Lucas Ottone/Stocksy
3 Poses To Eliminate Pain In Between The Shoulder Blades
The most common cause of pain in between the shoulder blades is poor posture. We round our backs, our head comes forward and we collapse our chest. This can happen at work, while driving, eating or tapping away on our smartphones. When you combine this with a heavy training load, you exacerbate the stress and pain can start to develop. If you’re a cyclist, you spend long periods of time rounded over your handlebars. Surfers, swimmers and weightlifters are required to put considerable stress through their shoulders and upper back. And for runners, the torso remains relatively immobile, which contributes to the tension.
In this article, I will give you 3 poses that you can start practicing today. And if you’d like to unlock all my videos to get even better and faster results, you can sign up for your free 15-day trial today.
WHAT CAUSES PAIN IN BETWEEN THE SHOULDER BLADES?
When your upper back and shoulders are rounded forward, the shoulder blades start to pull away from each other. This over-stretches the muscles that support the shoulder blades—the rhomboids, lower trapezius and posterior rotator cuff muscles. Over time, this causes muscle fatigue and strain in the mid back.
Even though your instinct is probably be to stretch your upper back, this can actually make things worse. To address the imbalance that is causing the pain, you need to do the opposite. Stretch the muscles in the chest and the fronts of your shoulders, stabilise the shoulder blades and increase mobility in the thoracic spine.
3 POWERFUL POSES FOR REVERSING POOR POSTURE
You can practice these poses every day, separately or together. Hold each of them for 3-5 breaths and repeat 2-3 times. They can be fairly intense, so ease into them gently. Be careful not to use force or to put yourself in any position that causes pain. Practice them every day for a few weeks and see how you feel.
If you have an injury, please see a physical therapist to get the all-clear before practicing these exercises.
1. UPWARD FACING PLANK
This is the progression for Upward Facing Plank: Hammock, Crab and the full version of the pose. All three poses are effective for eliminating pain in between the shoulder blades, so take the variation that is best for you. Externally rotate your shoulders, lift your chest, lengthen your neck and gently squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths and repeat 2-3 times.
2. BRIDGE + FISH
If Fish pose is inaccessible for you, you can practice Bridge pose. These postures open up the chest and increase mobility in the thoracic spine. Hold one or both of these poses for 3-5 breaths and repeat 2-3 times. Again, lift your chest up and back, and draw your shoulder blades towards each other.
Here are 3 variations of Locust pose that you can cycle through for 3-5 breaths each. They are great for strengthening the muscles that support the shoulder blades. This includes the rhomboids, lower trapezius, and erector spinae, that run parallel to the spine. Focus on keeping your neck long as you draw your shoulders away from your ears.
YOUR 5 VIDEOS TO RELIEVE UPPER BACK PAIN
Here are 5 videos that you can practice for a more long-term solution to pain in between the shoulder blades. The first two are for beginners, the second two are intermediate and the last one is advanced. It includes Camel pose—an intense backbend (spinal extension).
- Sunday Morning Yoga
- Back + Shoulder Love
- Upper Body Strength 1
- Twist + Bend
- Deeper Backbends
OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO
- Take breaks during the activity or activities that you think might be contributing to your pain—riding your bicycle, working at your desk, driving your car.
- Pepper in chest-opening stretches and twists throughout your day.
- Take baths (with Epsom salts if possible) or use the sauna.
- Get a massage.
I’d love to hear which poses you find effective for relieving pain in between the shoulder blades. Both stretching and strengthening postures and any routines that you regularly practice for this issue.
Photo credit: Andrew Campbell at The Istana, Bali
Try This: 17 Exercises to Relieve Upper Back Pain, Neck Pain, and More
First things first: Loosen up the muscles in your problem area with a good stretch.
Stretching helps restore and maintain flexibility, promote range of motion, and improve blood flow — all of which can alleviate pain.
Pick a handful of the stretches below and run through as many as you can at one time. Try to spend at least 30 seconds — ideally 1 to 2 minutes — on each move.
Neck side bend and rotation
Stand or sit facing forward, and begin by tilting your neck to the right. You should feel the stretch through your neck to your trap muscle.
After about 10 seconds, slowly roll your head in a counterclockwise direction. Pause for 10 seconds when you reach your left shoulder.
Complete the rotation by ending where you started. Repeat these steps rolling in a clockwise direction.
Repeat this sequence 2-3 times.
Good for: neck and upper back
Stand with your arms down at your sides.
Roll your shoulders backward in a circular motion, completing 5 rotations. Then complete 5 rotations forward.
Repeat this sequence 2-3 times.
Good for: shoulders and upper back
Overhead arm reach
Sit in a chair, facing forward with your feet on the ground.
Extend your right arm up above your head and reach to the left. Bend your torso until you feel the stretch in your right lat and shoulder.
Return to start. Repeat 5 times, then do the same thing with your left arm.
Good for: shoulders and upper back
You’ll need a doorway for this stretch.
Step into the doorway and place your forearms on the doorframe. Make sure your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
Let the weight of your body fall forward slightly so that you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 3 times.
Good for: shoulders and upper back
Sit sideways in a chair. Your right side should be resting against the back of the chair.
Keeping your legs stationary, rotate your torso to the right, reaching for the back of the chair with your hands.
Hold your upper body there, using your arms to stretch deeper and deeper as your muscles loosen.
Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.
Good for: upper, mid, and lower back
Start on all fours with your neck neutral.
Your palms should be directly under your shoulders, and your knees should be directly under your hips.
On your next inhale, tuck your pelvis and round out your mid back. Draw your navel toward your spine and drop your head to relax your neck.
After 3-5 seconds, exhale, and return to a neutral spine position.
Then turn your face toward the sky, allowing your back to sink toward the floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds.
Repeat this sequence 5 times.
Good for: mid and lower back
Start on the ground on all fours.
With your big toes touching, spread your knees as far apart as they’ll go and sit your butt back onto your feet.
Sit straight up with your arms extended above your head.
On your next exhale, hinge at the waist and drop your upper body forward between your legs.
Allow your forehead to touch the floor, your shoulders to spread, and your butt to sink back.
Hold for at least 15 seconds.
Good for: shoulders; upper, mid, and lower back
Knee to chest
Lay with your back on the ground. Bend your left leg and bring it to your chest. Hold for 10 seconds and release.
Repeat with your right leg. Complete the whole sequence 3 times.
Good for: lower back
For best results, use a foam roller or a chair.
If you’re using a foam roller, position it under your thoracic spine. Allow your head and butt to fall on either side. Extend your arms above your head to deepen the stretch.
If you’re using a chair, sit facing forward and allow your upper body to fall over the back of the chair. Extend your arms above your head for a deeper stretch.
Hold either position for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 3 times.
Good for: upper and mid back
Place your palms on opposite shoulders, and bring your elbows together to touch. Hold for 5 seconds and release.
Complete 3-5 more times.
Good for: shoulders and upper back