Upper back pain is often caused by a weakening and over-stretching of the muscles between the shoulder blades. This is often as a result of spending too long, and too often, with your head in the position akin to reading a book that is on your lap.
If you spend a lot of time at a computer, make sure the screen is at eye level, never below and not too far away so that you have to reach to it. The same applies if you spend a long time in the car – raise the steering wheel and sit closer to it, like a rally driver, but don’t go thinking you’re Sebastian Loeb.
Regular cyclists might also experience the same pain from riding with their hands too wide, rather than roughly shoulder-width apart, causing the back to sag between the shoulders.
Here are some exercises to strengthen those deconditioned muscles. They take around 5 minutes to complete:
– Whilst standing, squeeze your shoulder blades together so that it causes your shoulders to be drawn rearward. Hold for a count of 5 each time and repeat for one minute initially.
– Standing upright and holding a can of beans or soup, bend forwards so that your forearm is resting on the arm of a chair or coffee table. Your torso should be roughly horizontal. With the can in your opposite hand, raise your free arm upwards and outwards, keeping it straight until the arm is parallel to the floor. Slowly lower the arm to your side again so that your arm is hanging vertically and repeat 10 times to begin with. Switch sides.
To make this harder, increase the weight in your hand or simply avoid dropping your arm to the vertical position, so its range movement is merely from the 8 o’clock position to 10 o’clock. You’ll be surprised what a difference this makes.
– Lie tummy-down on your bed with your head over the side or bottom end. Nod your head slowly up and down, holding it briefly in its uppermost position, which should mean that you are pretty much looking ahead. Repeat this for a minute.
To see some of these exercises demonstrated, please visit my upper back pain page.
Try to do these exercises every other day, increasing the weight or repetitions weekly. They will most likely begin to help in around 2-3 weeks. In the meantime you may wish to apply some Atrogel 2-4 times a day, especially before bed and upon waking.
Loss of the condition of the muscles in the upper back pain often contributes to neck pain and ‘neck headaches’ which can extend right over the top of the skull and into the eye sockets. For some more information on the exercises to ease these types of headaches, click here.