Upper Back Pain – 2 Ways to Find Relief

The best way to rehabilitate upper back pain and find pain relief is by knowing the various root causes of the tension.



Possible Root Causes of Tension

Upper back pain can have multiple roots such as: 

  • Direct trauma:
    • Motor-vehicle injury 
    • Sporting injury
  • Indirect trauma:
    • Compromised posture 
    • Low strength of core muscles and postural muscles
    • Excessive tightness in the chest muscles
    • Excessive tightness in the back (Latissimus) muscles
    • Mental or emotional stress

Once the root cause(s) is identified

Regardless of the cause, once past the acute stage (few weeks), the body finds various ways to heal the pain which unfortunately leads to compensatory adjustments from other parts of the body. An easy term I use to explain to clients is – the body essentially steals mobility or flexibility from other parts to make sure you can still turn your head and lift your arms. 

Once injuries set in over months, and years – we start to notice that the head turns less and neck flexibility decreases, and the ease of lifting the arms overhead… isn’t so freely moving anymore. 

Decrease Upper Back Pain

Most times we find the causes of upper back pain are indirect. Sometimes indirect back pain already exists and then a direct cause then makes the pain worse.

Two of the ways to decrease general/indirect upper back pain are to: 

  1. Open and stretch the muscles of the chest, shoulder, and lats. The lats start from the low back and pelvis all the way up to the back of the shoulders. Shoulders are a key structure that plays a role in upper back pain. 
  2. Apply some pressure point therapy (can also be done by yourself using a ball), the some trigger points in your scapula (shoulder blades and around your trapezius muscles). A simple search for ‘self myofascial release upper back’ would help you get more education on the different ways you can apply pressure for pain relief.  

Avoiding Ongoing Back Pain

These are the 2 basic ways to find immediate pain relief from upper back pain. Once these are established as part of your daily routine, it is best:

  1. Improve your posture
  2. Strengthen the muscles that help keep your spine upright
  3. Fascial Stretch Therapy is a technique often used to vastly decrease upper back pain

Muscle Strengthening

Many of the people that come to see us have some level of upper back pain. Because it is extremely important to maintain great back health, we include in a set of specific exercises to decrease upper back pain for personal training clients as well as Active Rehabilitation clients. The exercises consist of:

  1. Thoracic mobility exercises, namely thoracic rotation
  2. Upper back strengthening, done with extremely light weights or bands using proper technique
  3. Core stabilization exercises, done with minimal to no equipment to ensure the spinal system is self-supporting

Fascial Stretch Therapy

Often we perform Fascial Stretch Therapy to those that tried the above methods but still have ongoing pain and tension.

The active stretch along with the Myo-fascial Release (seen at the end of this video) provides immediate relief to the areas. 

We then go over 2 exercises or stretches specific for the person, in efforts to decrease and eventually rid-off upper back pain completely. 


Good luck!

As always, we are happy to answer your questions via email, phone, or would love to see you in person – just please book a time first and we would be happy to help =)!