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3 Exercises to Improve Upper Back Mobility to Decrease Neck, Shoulder, or Back Pain At Home

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

Do you have neck, shoulder, or low back pain? Have you been trying to do stretches on those areas with little to no relief? Try focusing on your thoracic spine! Check out these exercises for upper back pain.

What is the Thoracic Spine?

Your thoracic spine is the area of your upper back in-between your neck and low back. It is highlighted in red in this picture below:

The thoracic spine runs from levels T1 to T12 (see photo above). This is the area that gets stiff most commonly when you're sitting looking at your computer or driving for long periods of time. If you have neck, low back or shoulder pain, a lot of times people don't realize that part of the cause could be from stiffness in your thoracic spine.

Due to postures while sitting, texting, or working on computers, this area of the spine is stiff on almost everybody. This stiffness then leads to poor mechanics, overuse, and potentially pain of the low back, neck, or shoulders leading to poor posture.

What should you do about it? The answer is to work on thoracic spine mobility and strengthening the muscles! Check out our video below to see 3 easy stretches to complete at home to increase thoracic mobility.

How to Improve Upper Back Mobility

In the video above, I'm going to be showing you three easy stretches that you can do at home to help relieve this pain and stiffness. It's easiest to do them with something on the floor like a yoga mat, or you can even do them in your bed.

Open Book Stretch

The first one is going to be laying on your side. You want to bend your knees so their low back is locked out, hands forward, and you're gonna open up your top arm, bring your neck with it, feel good stretch in your back and in your lats, hold it for a couple of seconds, and then bring it back. You're gonna do 10 to 20 on each side, once or twice a day.

Thread the Needle Stretch

The second exercise is called thread the needle. You'll start in this hands and knees position. You're going to reach one arm underneath the other to get some rotation and then bring it up to the other direction. If this hands knees position hurts, you can also modify it by putting your hands on a countertop or on something higher up, like a table.

Kneeling Wall Twist

The third exercise I'm going to show you is kneeling at a wall or at anything that's flat. You're going to open up, twist, and reach back. Feel a good stretch and bring it back to the slide.

Complete each of the above exercises 10-20 times once or twice a day if you're having neck, low back or shoulder pain and see if this helps.

If after 1 week your symptoms haven't gotten much better, please give our office a call to speak with a physical therapist to see what your next best steps are.


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