Mid Back Pain Relief Exercises



Mid-back pain can often be debilitating and make it difficult to complete routine tasks. Mid-back pain is typically caused by soft tissue injuries such as muscle strains and spasms, ligament sprains, and joint dysfunction; however, in rare cases, there may be an underlying medical condition involved. It is important to accurately identify the cause of mid-back pain before beginning any treatment program.

As part of your treatment regimen for mid-back pain relief, a physical therapist can provide specific exercises designed to reduce the symptoms of your condition. A physical therapist can also provide instructions on proper technique so that the exercises are safe and effective. Some examples of mid-back pain relief exercises include:

  • Static Stretching
  • Range of Motion Exercises
  • Strength Training
  • Core Strengthening/Stabilization Exercises

It is important to note that while exercises are important in your recovery, they should not be painful and you should always adhere to your physical therapist’s instructions regarding frequency, duration, intensity, and form. The key to the successful completion of a recovery program is consistency and dedication – if you follow the recommended protocols provided by your physical therapist, you will begin to see improvement over time.

Causes of Mid Back Pain

Mid-back pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by many different factors, including poor posture, muscle strains, joint dysfunction, and disc degeneration.

Understanding what may be causing your mid back pain is key to finding the right treatment options for you.

  • Poor Posture and Muscle Imbalance – Poor posture or sitting in certain positions for prolonged periods of time can put unnecessary strain on the muscles in the mid back, leading to soreness and tightened muscles. Muscle imbalances between the front of your body (the chest) and the back of your body (the mid-back) may cause overworking of certain muscles, leading to tension and pain.
  • Joint Dysfunction – The joints in your spine that form the mid-back have intricate shapes that allow them to move freely. If they lose their normal range of motion due to age or injury, this can lead to pain as well as a decrease in mobility.
  • Disc Degeneration – Discs are cushions between each vertebra in your spine that act like shock absorbers for movements you make every day. As you get older or if you experience an injury, these discs can begin to wear out due to degeneration and create painful spasms known as facet joint syndrome.

It is important to speak with a medical professional if you experience any mid-back pain lasting more than a few days so they can accurately identify what may be causing it and provide personalized treatment options tailored specifically for you.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises can be an effective way to relieve mid-back pain. By using a combination of stretches, you can improve your range of motion and reduce the intensity of your pain. Furthermore, stretching will increase flexibility and mobility, which will help you perform everyday activities without difficulty.

Let’s look at some stretching exercises you can use to help relieve mid-back pain:

Cat-Cow Pose

Cat-Cow Pose is a beneficial stretching exercise for those suffering from mid-back pain as it helps to build strength and flexibility in the spinal muscles. It also helps improve posture and reduce stress.

To perform this exercise, start on hands and knees with your back in a neutral position. Make sure your wrists are directly below your shoulders, your knees should be hip-width apart, and your neck should be in line with your spine.

  • On the inhale, drop your belly towards the floor while arching the mid-back up and outwards causing it to become slightly concave.
  • On the exhale draw the belly up towards your spine while curling down into a “cat” position.
  • Move slowly with each inhale-exhale cycle for approximately 15 repetitions.
  • Focus on breathing deeply and keeping the back relaxed, not rigid or tense.
  • After completing this exercise release yourself gently back onto all fours before performing any additional postures or stretches.

Thread the Needle Pose

Thread the needle pose is an effective, restorative stretching exercise that has been shown to help decrease mid-back pain and can be done at home or in the comfort of your own office. The goal of this exercise is to open up the chest, lengthen the spine, and increase flexibility in the shoulders and upper back.

To do the thread the needle pose, begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Breathe in deeply as you lengthen your spine, maintaining contact between your head, neck, and mid-back region on the mat. Slowly raise one arm up to form a goal post position with fingers pointing upwards. While keeping that arm raised with the chest lifted off ground, take another arm underneath the torso weaving it through another side of the body until it comes out from under the armpit of the raised arm. Interlock both hands together behind the head while maintaining a straight alignment of the spine; hold this pose for a few breaths while focusing on expanding the breath deep down into the ribcage area before exhaling completely. Return arms down to mat afterward; repeat threading motion with opposite arm and hand interlocked behind head for the same amount of breaths.

Thread the needle pose is an excellent stretching exercise for those looking for relief from mid-back pain due to muscle tightness or strain from overuse or lack of mobility in the upper body region; it’s also great for increasing flexibility in shoulders and improving posture with continuous practice. Remember to start slowly without forcing stretch too deep when beginning the threading exercise; if any signs of discomfort arise then cease movement immediately and reevaluate breathing and posture alignment before continuing further exercises that work the thoracic spine area accordingly.

Seated Spinal Twist

The seated spinal twist is a great exercise to ease mid-back pain. It stretches the backbone and helps improve flexibility, which may reduce the chances of future back pain episodes.

To begin, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground directly underneath your hips, and keep your legs slightly apart. Place both hands on either side of your body, and gently move one arm over the other so that you are twisted at the spine to one side. Engage your abdominal muscles and shift from side to side for 8-10 repetitions before repeating on the second side. Keep breathing deeply as you turn from side to side, maintaining a steady tempo throughout each twisting movement. Inhale as you twist one way and exhale as you come back to the center.

Gradually increase how far you twist as it becomes more comfortable for you but be sure not to strain or stretch excessively; if discomfort occurs during or after stretching stop immediately. Be mindful that this exercise should be performed gradually at an intensity that is suitable for your own body’s abilities.

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a yoga posture that is a great way to stretch and strengthen the mid back. It helps to alleviate tightness in the shoulders and upper back, while also stretching out the lumbar spine. This pose can be done from either a seated or prone position, depending on which you find more comfortable.

To perform Child’s Pose from a seated position, begin by sitting upright on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you and your arms resting at your sides. Next, inhale deeply, and as you exhale round your spine forward until your chest touches your thighs and your arms extend above your head on the floor in front of you. You may want to rest the forehead or chin on the mat for added relaxation if it feels comfortable – try not to tense up or strain too much. Slowly inhale and lift up as far as is comfortable, lengthening through both sides of the torso until an even stretch is felt throughout the entire mid-back area. Make sure that shoulders are relaxed downward away from ears when lifting up into an extended position – try not to hunch them up towards ears! Exhale deeply again before repeating this sequence 2-3 times total for maximum benefit.

When performing Child’s Pose for mid-back pain relief be sure not to overextend; listen to what your body needs and stay within its limits each time. Be mindful of any sensations that can arise during this pose, as it can be quite intense at times – if discomfort arises then move very slowly in order to gradually ease deeper into it.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises are an important part of mid-back pain relief. These exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles in the mid back and help to reduce pain associated with the condition. Specific types of exercises, such as planks, functional core training, and bird dogs, can help strengthen and stabilize the mid-back muscles.

Let’s take a closer look at what these exercises can do for mid-back pain sufferers:

Reverse Fly

The reverse fly is an effective exercise to strengthen the muscles of your mid back. It can help to reduce pain, improve posture and increase your range of motion and flexibility. This exercise works the rhomboid muscles, which are located in between and just below the shoulder blades.

To get started, stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Knees should be slightly bent and the weight should be evenly distributed on both feet. Keep your abdominals braced, and shoulders rolled back and down away from the ears.

Grip a pair of dumbbells or light hand weights with palms facing each other and elbows slightly bent. Lifting weights off the floor, extend your arms to sides at shoulder height, as if you were making a snow angel in the air; keep your palms facing each other for this movement. Keep arms straight as you slowly lift them up until parallel with your shoulders; make sure that you do not shrug your shoulders up toward your ears during this portion of the exercise.

Next, slowly return to the start position by controlling all downward motions with proper form throughout the exercise; repeat the last portion 4-5 times before returning hands to starting position towards the floor again for a full set of 12-15 reps on reverse fly mid back strengthening exercises per session 1 or 2 days a week as part of core strength program or after injury rehabilitation program prescribed by a doctor or physical therapist per patient’s individual need adjustments to ensure proper eversion stability at scapula and spine while performing exercises safely to avoid additional injuries along the way.

Chest Expansion

Chest expansion exercises are a great way to strengthen your mid-back muscles and reduce pain from muscle tension or tightness. This exercise strengthens the muscles between your shoulder blades and increases the ability of your entire upper body to resist forward movement.

To perform chest expansion, stand facing an open door frame, with arms slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Gently push your hands against the door frame, closing and widening them alternately five times. To increase the intensity, use resistance bands to create additional pressure on the muscles that raise your arms away from the sides of your body.

As these back muscles become stronger, you should feel less pain in the midsection of your back when doing normal activities such as exercising or lifting objects around the house.

Single-Arm Row

The single-arm row is a great exercise for strengthening the mid-back area and improving posture. It can be done with weights, a weight machine, or even with just body weight.

Begin by kneeling on a mat or soft surface. Reach your right arm out in front of you and grab an exercise band or weight with an overhand grip. Make sure to keep your back straight and lightly engage your abdominals throughout the movement. Bend your right elbow back until you reach shoulder height, keeping your arm close to your side (leaving a few inches of space between your side and arm). Pause briefly at the top before slowly lowering the weight or band down in front of you until you reach the starting position.

Repeat this for 8-12 repetitions per set on each side. As you get more comfortable with this exercise, increase the amount of resistance from weights or bands so that it remains challenging as your strength improves over time.


The Superman exercise is an excellent exercise to strengthen the lower, middle, and upper back muscles. This exercise can help alleviate lower mid-back pain by strengthening the core of the spine region and providing stability to it.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Lie face down on a flat surface or an exercise mat with your arms stretched out above your head like Superman flying in the air.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles so as to prevent arching of your lower back and lift both arms, as well as legs off the surface together; slightly contract the buttocks for extra stability.
  3. Raise both arms and legs about 6 inches off the floor using just your core strength and hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Gently return them back to starting position.
  5. Repeat 10-12 times or as tolerated, gradually increasing repetitions over time according to a comfort level while maintaining proper form throughout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Middle back pain is a symptom of various conditions, including muscle strain, arthritis, spinal stenosis, and herniated discs. It may also be caused by infection, injury, or poor posture.

  1. Start by lying on your back on a flat surface.
  2. Place a foam roller or a rolled-up towel under your lower back, just below the rib cage.
  3. Using your arms, slowly roll your body forward and back, allowing the foam roller/towel to knead the middle of your back.
  4. Hold each position for 5-10 seconds, then roll back and forth a few more times.
  5. Repeat this process for 2-3 minutes, or until you feel the tension in your muscles releasing.
  6. Finish by doing some gentle stretches for the middle back muscles.

Stretching can be helpful for middle back pain, depending on the cause. Stretching can help relieve tight muscles and improve muscle flexibility, which can in turn help decrease back pain. However, it is important to consult with a doctor or physical therapist to determine which stretches are best for your particular condition.

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As with any exercise and treatment plan, it is important to discuss the individual needs of each patient with the supervising physician. This helps to ensure the safety and well-being of the patient, as well as provide effective and safe relief from mid back pain.

Many individuals can begin by engaging in light exercise or activity, such as walking, stretching, or yoga on a daily basis. Along with general strengthening exercises, a physical therapist may prescribe specific exercises specifically tailored to address any postural imbalances or strength deficits.

These should progress in difficulty slowly over time for continued improvement. Additionally, other lifestyle factors such as proper rest and nutrition can have a positive effect on overall health and healing from mid-back pain. Finally, seek out medical advice if symptoms worsen or are persistent despite self-care measures.

Spine Institute NY