Thoracic Spine Pain | Upper Back Exercises From A Physical Therapist

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Six of the best stretches and exercises to decrease pain and tension in your upper back. Thoracic self-mobilization techniques and strength training exercises to help eliminate your back pain and help you feel better. Tips and advice from a doctor of physical therapy.

FOAM ROLLER USED IN THIS VIDEO: https://amzn.to/2VrLPEx

SELF-MASSAGER FOR MUSCLE KNOTS: https://amzn.to/2JKBqSs

OTHER VIDEOS YOU MIGHT FIND USEFUL

HOW TO ELIMINATE MUSCLE KNOTS IN NECK AND SHOULDERS: https://youtu.be/9PC9Mn0VO00

STIFF NECK EXERCISES: https://youtu.be/EquRG4EOHPE
HOW TO SLEEP WITH BACK PAIN: https://youtu.be/-Qxmc4E7IwA

FIX YOUR POSTURE IN 6 MINUTES – FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES: https://youtu.be/8otTdS5DhE4

HOW TO CRACK YOUR OWN BACK AND NECK AT HOME: https://youtu.be/4SfPkYXo7wQ

RELEVANT TIME STAMPS:
0:56 – WHY you hurt
3:58 – Thoracic Rotation Stretch
5:37 – Chair Extension Mobilization
7:27 – Foam Roller
9:36 – Rows
11:07 – Wall Angels
12:30 – Prone W’s

WHAT CAUSES UPPER BACK PAIN?

There are many potential sources of upper back pain. In my professional experience, the three most-common causes of thoracic spine pain are joint inflammation, rib dysfunction, and muscle strain/knots. Again – there are many more potential causes than this, but these are the three that I encounter the most often in my physical therapy clinic. Fortunately, there’s a lot that the right stretches and strengthening exercises can do to alleviate your pain and symptoms in your upper back.

STABILITY VS MOBILITY

When we are talking about joints of the body (and especially joints of the spine) there’s one key principle that often dictates rehabilitation: Stability vs Mobility. Your spine is a column of vertebrae stacked one on top of the other – it needs to be a stable structure to support your body. However, that column is also designed to bend and rotate (providing us movement) and therefore needs to be a mobile structure, as well.

The key to helping alleviate pain in this area in your upper back is often found in discovering the right balance for your body between stability and mobility. If you find your back is very stiff and doesn’t move very well (too much stability and not enough mobility) then your best treatment options should include stretching, foam rolling, and other joint mobilization techniques.

If, on the other hand, your back is very loose, flexible, and mobile, then you will most likely benefit from exercises focusing on stability (a.k.a. strength) versus stretching. A strong muscle is a tight muscle – the stronger your muscles in a given area the better the stability of that area.

BEST STRETCHES AND MOBILIZATIONS FOR THORACIC SPINE PAIN (please see video for full demonstration of each)

Thoracic Spine Rotation Stretch – One of my favorite stretches to introduce motion into the thoracic spine. Keep in mind – the higher you bring your knees the more you’ll feel this stretch.

Chair Extension Mobilization – Go up and down your thoracic spine to mobilize each segment; don’t be surprised if you get a few pain-alleviating “pops” along the way.

Foam Roller – Needs to be done the right way! Don’t hold your head suspended but rather let it mobilize your back.

BEST STRENGTHENING EXERCISES FOR YOUR UPPER BACK

Band Rows (bilateral and unilateral) – Bilateral to increase strength/stability; unilateral is a way that you can actually include some functional strengthening over motion with it.

Wall Angels – Strength and endurance are key! Remember the points of contact and try strengthening over this really good posture.

Prone W’s – Remember to get your chest up off the floor (extend through your back) and get your elbows behind you (drawing your shoulder blades closer together)

Upper back pain is a common problem for a lot of people, but it absolutely doesn’t have to be! Being in tune with your body and understanding the principles provided in this video (stretch where it’s tight; strengthen where it’s weak) are key to alleviating your pain and helping you to feel better.

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Comments

Tone and Tighten says:

Did you try these yet? Which one did you get the most relief from? I hope these stretches and tips help you to live healthier and happier. Thanks so much for watching!

Madiwalappa KP says:

Thank you!!,

Ron Oehler says:

Fantastic exercises. My thoracic spine has been killing me for the last week. I did all of the exercises in this video and got some immediate relief. I did them in the order shown and I think the first one had the most effect. A big THANK YOU!

Justin Nguyen says:

I injured my back while working out and this worked my back and I felt so much better, thank you so much!!!!

Brittany Middendorf says:

Thank you!! These are great. You're a spine -saver 🙂

Ivo Marevic says:

Hi. I have a lumbar lordosis and thoracic kifosis. Lumbar area was a big problem to me in past years,so I've strenghted my abs and glutes and stretched hip flexors for several months and pain wanished. But then I started to and still have pain for last 5 months in thoracic area. I take pills and then pain goes away withing day or two. After that when I do the rows or wall angels it feels good but pain comes back within next 10 days max. I also do all of mobility exercise but feeling so stiff and stuck. Now even my low back pain is coming back. Please help me with advice. What to do first? Mobility or strenght? Low back or upper? No one in my area helped me. I went to numerous fiziotherapysts. Pain even goes through my sternum and around my ribcage and even in my lats somethimes. Please help and thank you

Lycanthropy Loblolly says:

I have severe upper back pain at night, doesn't matter what potion I'm in I cant sleep its unbearable.

Audrey Ransome says:

My back is tight from my upper back to my waist and swollen on the right side. Can you suggest exercises to help. It has been like this for a couple of years. I cant break the tension. Physio doesnt help.

Jennifer Porter says:

Thanks for this, I did something to my upper back in capoeira 3 weeks ago and I have had something like whiplash ever since. This video has really helped me release it a little bit! I need a chiropractor to crack it really, but not possible at the moment due to the lockdown!

yusuf1608 says:

Amazing! Thank you!

Sean Foster says:

I appreciate your content, back pain has been plaguing me for two years now. I have one suggestion from a production aspect – wallpaper. Go watch your favorite movie and look the walls inside the houses, they aren't going to be plain white walls. Wallpaper adds so much production value!

Blk Rose says:

I have been living with thoracic pain for almost 3 yrs…no dr. wants to deal with it…when you say back pain…drs. always go to lower…so that's where I've had the mri's on….which do show stenosis….guess that's why i have sciatic pain down to foot….but that constant pain in the mid of back is the killer….i was doing cobra and it seem to help…but saw online i shouldn't do that with stenoisi……thanks for sharing.

TheJJettgirl says:

This is a great video – super informative and clearly explained. It made me realise I've been using my foam roller wrong for ages! Just like you describe I've been tensing my abs and holding myself up. I just did it the right way and it feels much better!

Mostafa Arafat says:

u r awesome 😘

Tovarus Perkins says:

Great. You know what helped me allot? The row machine. The three sets of ten and holding it for a couple seconds each row. The hardest was the wall press and lifting my arms. Keeping my hips press against the wall was horrible. Loved the video.

Branden's Outdoor Channel says:

I always have mid thoracic pain right below the shoulder blades

daily feeds says:

9:35 stability exercise

Sunny S says:

Sir I have middle upper backpain. Have been taking hifenac-mr tablet for muscle relaxation as well had applied ralispray pain relief spray.

Is doing markatasaan safe in backpain…or..taking hot shower on backpain is a good idea.. Please let me know how to get rid… I am stuck in a month lockdown.. Please help..
Looks like I have upper back center pain…. Are these excerise safe to do with backpain…

Webb Family says:

Your exercises are great. With angel wings I can't get my left arm into the right angle and extend to touch the wall. It will not rotate to touch the wall it feels stuck. What can I do to loosen something to increase my flexibility and mobility. Thanks Fiona

Abdul samad ABDUL says:

Hi i love ur video but i have lot of pain when I go to bed I can't sleep a single minute I have lot of pain in my left neck and shoulder it cause my full back pain at night plz help me out of this this pain cause me fever loss of strength thanku

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