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Yoga for Upper Back Pain: Five Poses to Relieve a Stiff, Sore Back

Yoga has been around for 5,000 years, yet we are still finding new benefits to this age-old art of movement. Yoga is a mind-body exercise involving muscle control and stretching, practiced by nearly 36 million adults in the United States. Clinical yoga research has yielded promising findings in physical and mental health outcomes. In fact, yoga is now the most popular complementary medicine.

The health benefits of yoga are vast. While most people participate in yoga for fitness, stress relief, and overall wellness, researchers are discovering other advantages. There is improvement in cardio health, fatigue, obesity, and even asthma.

The benefits that our affiliated providers at the National Spine & Pain Centers, are most pleased to see is yoga providing relief for our patients with upper back pain.

Causes of Upper Back Pain

Pain in the upper back, which is roughly from the base of your neck through your shoulders down to your ribs, can occur for any number of reasons. The causes of upper back pain can include:

-Muscle overuse

-Stress

-Poor Posture

-Constant strain

-Injury

-Whiplash

Upper Back Pain Symptoms

Upper back pain symptoms are typically discomfort and achiness. You may often feel a dull, burning, or sharp pain, or muscle tightness or stiffness through your neck and the small of your back. If you feel weakness in your arms or legs, numbness, or tingling, it may signify a more serious problem, and you should see a pain management specialist.

Yoga for Upper Back Pain

Yoga for upper back pain not only alleviates mild pain or discomfort but, when used on a regular basis, is a great preventative therapy. Let’s look at ways you can stretch your back to relieve strain on those affected muscles.

First, understand that the benefits of yoga are not just the controlled movements but also breathing through the movements on the inhale or exhale as directed. The movement, combined with the oxygen transfer, provides the biggest benefit. Yoga strengthens muscles, which makes them less susceptible to injury.

When doing yoga, it’s best to wear comfortable, stretchy clothes and be in a quiet setting. After all, if your upper back pain has been caused by stress, the peacefulness of the environment provides healing as well. Many yoga poses are done on the floor. If you can use a yoga mat or a cushioned surface, that will provide more comfort.

Consider the following yoga poses for upper back pain relief:

  • Cat-Cow: This movement literally makes you look like a cat when they round their back. You are on all fours, balancing your weight, stretching the upper back by curving it.
  • Extended Triangle: This is a classic standing pose, accentuating good posture. It is very good for neck pain. You extend your arms, providing a relieving stretch.
  • Cobra Pose: Lying down on your stomach, you use your arms to slowly raise your upper body. This provides great shoulder relief and builds strength.
  • Half Lord of The Fishes: Performed while seated, this pose provides a twisting motion to energize the spine, shoulders, and neck. It looks like a pretzel pose.
  • Child’s Pose: You kneel and allow your arms to extend in front of you. From that position, you bow. The movement relieves stress and tension in the neck and back.

These are great exercises to do at home, although attending yoga classes is ideal. Having an instructor to help you get into the correct poses is key. But the next best thing is to follow the guidance of experts using online videos. These are the five best videos we found for soothing your stiff, sore upper back.

Five Yoga Videos for Upper Back Pain Relief

  1. Here is a five-minute guided yoga instruction for upper back pain and flexibility.
  1. This video provides a 15-minute neck, shoulder, and upper back pain relief sequence.
  1. This is a 10-minute mobility yoga instruction video for neck and shoulder relief while seated.
  1. For beginners, this video provides safe and easy stretches for neck and shoulder pain
  2. Although this is not formal yoga, fitness expert Denise Austin provides this quick guide for neck stretches to alleviate tension.

There are additional exercises and stretches you can do to alleviate upper back soreness:

  • Neck side bend and rotation
  • Shoulder roll
  • Overhead arm reach
  • Pec stretch
  • Chair rotation

You may also want to consider other complementary medicine practices for pain relief, like acupuncture. This has proven to be effective for chronic back, neck, shoulder, and joint pain, as well as osteoarthritis and headaches/migraines.

Remember, if your pain persists or intensifies, it’s always best to find a doctor like one of our pain management specialists at National Spine & Pain Centers.

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