Commonly, mid-back pain is aggravated by our day-to-day postural habits. Without thinking, you can easily twist yourself in your own seat without evening knowing it (check out our blog on bad posture at your workstation). Briefly positioning in these manners is okay, but habitual patterning in these positions may leave you prone to future mid-back injuries.
The mid-back (thoracic spine) is located between your low back and your and neck. Essentially, it’s job is to be the middleman between the multi-directional motion of your neck and the up and down motion of your lower back. All too often, however, we hunch over at our desks and cause our thoracic spines to become stiff and sore. This can cause pain in the neck and lower back.
To beat the pain, we should all take some time during the day to not only adjust our posture, but also to stretch and reverse our natural tendencies of being forward in a slumped position. Two stretches which help promote upright positioning include:
The Corner or Door Chest Stretch:
Place both arms up and out in a “field goal” position, resting them against each side of a door or wall in a corner. Gently lean in until a stretch is felt through the front of the chest/pectoral muscles. This also helps extend through the mid-back. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat for 3 repetitions.
Upper Back “Butterfly” Stretch:
To start, sit in a good, upright posture. Place both hands’ fingers on the point where your neck meets your upper back (on the spine), and put your elbows together. Slowly, bring your elbows apart until you feel movement under your fingers (until you feel the spine move) and then bring the elbows together again. When performed, it looks much like a butterfly slowly flapping its wings. This allows for gentle extension of your upper back, which has a tendency of becoming stiff with ‘poor’ postural habits. Perform for 10 repetitions
These stretches are best when repeated multiple times per day (every hour or two) and should not take more than a minute to complete. Use sticky notes or phone alarms as friendly reminders to take some “You” time during the day, in order to stay healthy, productive, and better-able to tackle each days’ new challenges. These should be comfortable and feel like light stretches – if they are not, please speak with your physical therapist today to make the necessary adjustments.
At Life’s Work Physical Therapy, we are committed to improving your ergonomics for better posture and reduced back pain. From diagnosis to recovery, our team of expert clinicians take the time and effort to understand the origin of your pain as well as provide the encouragement and exercises needed for long-term success.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our Portland physical therapy locations.