Did you feel a sharp pain in your upper back when you bend to pick up something? Or do you experience pain in your upper back when you try to get off from your office chair or couch? Around 80% of people across the world experience upper back pain or lower back pain at some time of their lives.
An estimated 50% of working Americans complain of back pain at least one time in a year. While upper back pain is not as common as lower back pain, it still hurts the same. 10% of patients who visit the doctor cannot provide the reason for their back pain. The leading cause of upper back pain is soft tissue or muscle problems.
Upper back is also known as the thoracic spine, and your risk of having neck pain increases if you suffer from thoracic(1) or upper back pain. At such times, yoga for upper back pain can be your buddy to help you to recuperate and alleviate the excruciating pain. Would you like to know more about these yoga postures for upper back pain? Read on.
Importance of Yoga for Upper Back Pain Relief
How to relieve upper back pain? yoga is a very safe and popular form of exercise for upper back pain. A regular yoga routine is more important for the back pain issue(2). Just 10-20 minutes of yoga exercise regularly can retrain the muscles of the back into supporting the spine. To perform well in your yoga exercises, you need to know the importance of yoga and the muscle physiology for radiant and optimal balance health.
When you perform yoga poses or upper back exercises, the stretching of the skeletal muscles causes the sarcomeres to stretch. Some of the fibers lengthen, and some do not. That is the reason why prolonged static and dynamic stretching in yoga is very important.
The prolonged static stretching is holding the yoga pose for a lengthened duration of time. In prolonged static stretching, more muscle fibers get hired by holding the stretch. In dynamic stretching, moving in and out of the stretch allows the hiring of more muscle fibers where each muscle gets stretched.
When the sarcomeres and myofilaments stretch, the surrounding connective tissues stretch as well. The fibers that have been unorganized due to lack of movement or activity or expression will then begin to restructure in such a way that the muscle is rehabilitated to its optimal resting length.
The importance of yoga for upper back pain includes enhanced muscle strength and tone, increased flexibility, improved energy, respiration, and vitality. Doing yoga asana helps in maintaining balanced metabolism and condition of the muscular network of the spine.
[Read: Yoga for Osteoporosis Treatment]
Top 5 Yoga Poses for Upper Back Pain
The top 5 yoga poses for upper back pain can relieve the tightness of the upper back muscles, neck, and the shoulders. To start these easy yoga poses, all you need is a yoga carpet or mat.
Have a quick look at these 5 yoga poses for upper back pain.
1. Child Pose
The child pose alleviates pain in back, neck, and shoulders by soothing the muscles.
How to do?
- Let your knees spread wide apart and let your big toes touching the ground.
- Place your hips on top of your heels and extend your hands on the carpet by bending your chest towards the ground.
- Rest your forehead on the carpet.
- Stretch your hands to the right edge of the carpet and gently press your hips towards the right to feel the stretch.
- Retain the pose for 6-8 breaths and change the sides.
[Read: Yoga Poses for Hip Pain Relief]
2. Supine Twist
Supine Twist helps you to relieve tension in the shoulders, trapezius, rhomboids, and upper back region.
How to do?
- Lie down on your back on the ground and hug your right knee into your chest.
- Place your right arm to the opposite side with your palm touching the ground.
- Use the left hand to pull your right leg across your body making it come into the supine twist pose.
- Place your right shoulder on the ground, straight up at the sky.
- Hold for 6-8 breaths, then change the sides.
Cat-Cow pose helps to stretch the rhomboids and warm the spine. Eventually, it loosens up the tightness in the upper back region.
How to do?
- Start with your hands and knees on the ground and ensure your wrists are under your shoulders and knees are under your hips.
- On your inhale, lift your tailbone and head towards the sky, let your belly towards the ground to come into cow pose and feel a stretch through your abdomen.
- On your exhale, round your spine up towards the sky to come into cat pose and imagine you’re pulling your navel up towards your spine while bending your chin to the chest and let your neck release.
- Repeat the cat-cow poses at least ten times.
[Read: Sciatica Treatment with Yoga]
4. Rabbit Pose
Rabbit pose eliminates the tension throughout your neck and back region.
How to do?
- From child pose, hold your heels with your hands and pull the forehead in towards your knees with the top of the head on the ground.
- Inhale and lift the hips towards the ceiling by holding tightly onto your heels.
- Press the forehead as close as possible to the knees.
- Hold for 6-8 breaths.
- Now slowly lower the hips to the heels and slide the forehead back to the floor into child pose release.
5. Puppy Pose
Puppy pose releases tightness in the chest, lats, trapezius, and shoulders.
How to do?
- Bend to a table pose with your hips over your knees, with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, and tops of your feet relaxed down on the ground.
- Move your hands out in front of you and lower your chest down towards the floor, keeping your hips over the knees and shoulders distance apart.
- Now gently release your forehead towards the floor and draw your scapula onto your back and lift your hips high towards the sky.
- Breathe into your back and make your neck to relax and lengthen your spine in both directions.
- Hold it for 6-10 breaths, and gently release by lifting your forehead, taking the palms back to your body.
[Read: Massage for Back Pain Relief]
Contraindicated yoga postures for upper back pain
Yoga is often thought of as a healthy practice due to its gentle poses, flexibility, and stretching. Yoga postures are used to recover pain and injury. But there are also contraindicated yoga postures that are potential to make the condition even worse and can sometimes cause harm to you.
A contraindication is a factor or situation in which certain yoga poses can aggravate the state because it may be harmful to the person due to some medical reasons. Some yoga poses can make your back pain even worse. Here are some of the contraindicated yoga postures for upper back pain and back injuries.
This pose makes you feel stretched in the abdomen region. Camel pose is a type of backbend that can also stretch out the lower back. You should skip this pose if you have disk or back pain.
Lunge twist involves twisting your body. Generally twisting can put too much pressure on your disks in your lower back. So, it is advised not to follow twists during this situation.
Boat pose involves in tilting your lower lumbar spine which can aggravate the back pain. Ensure that you do not perform this pose during this time.
Full Wheel Pose
Full wheel pose requires more flexibility and a lot of strength. The posture involves more risk on the spine and back. Instead, you can go with half bridge pose or half wheel pose.
Shoulder stand is not a relaxed pose and puts severe pressure on your back and neck. This pose compresses your back, and hence it should be avoided in harsh conditions during back pain.
Yoga for upper back pain plays a crucial role in alleviating your upper back pain to some extent. The yoga postures and stretches discussed are tremendously beneficial and leave no side effects on your upper back, spine, and shoulders.
Nowadays, it is not a big deal to relieve pain if you follow these yoga postures regularly. While doing these yoga postures make sure you don’t do the contraindicated yoga poses. However, if you feel pain in your upper back region, it is best to consult a doctor to find out the cause of the pain.