How to relieve mid and upper back pain

Our 5 favourite natural approaches for mid and upper back pain relief

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S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
Ask Louise

16 May 2018

1) Posture

Poor posture and slouching places unnecessary strain on your back and is a major cause of upper and middle back pain. Be sure to adapt your posture when you’re driving and using a computer to minimise the risk of developing poor posture habits. Poor posture can not only affect your back but it can cause neck pain too! In fact, in most cases the cause of neck pain can be related to bad posture. 

What’s more, poor posture can also interfere with your digestion as slouching means that your food doesn’t have room to move through the gastrointestinal tract in the way that it should. This can often result in digestive complaints like constipation as digested foods just simply don’t have the space to move through properly. 

Poor posture can even interfere with our mood and can contribute to panic attacks for similar reasons. If we are hunched over our lungs aren’t able to fill fully up with air as we inhale. Also, it can mean that when we exhale we don’t do so properly meaning that some air gets trapped and left behind. This means that we aren’t getting as much fresh oxygen as we should which, in turn, means that our brain’s don’t receive as much which can have negative effects on our mood and circulation.

If you spend the majority of your day sitting at a desk be sure to take the time to set up your workstation properly. Try to make sure that any computers, telephones and documents that you need are within a comfortable working distance. Adjust your chair so that both your feet are planted firmly on the floor and your arms are at a comfortable 90 degree angle on your desk. Be sure to have computer screens at eye level as this will help to prevent tilting your head too far forward or too far back which places additional strain on the neck.

2) Exercise

Exercising offers are a number of great benefits for back pain such as improving your strength, mobility and flexibility, as well as reducing the likelihood of further pain and injury in the future. Exercise can also have beneficial effects on our mood by helping to reduce our levels of stress,  anxiety and low mood. That being said, exercising with back pain often seems like the last thing we want to (or should be) doing however, exercise can actually help improve your back pain. 

That is, some forms of exercise can be beneficial. If you have back pain and take to your most intense, hard-hitting form of exercise don’t be surprised if you end up doing more harm than good! The key here is to stay active and mobile through lower intensity exercise that is not so hard on your joints. Gentle, low impact and low intensity exercises such as swimming, walking and stretching are thought to be among the best ways to help relieve back pain. 

For information on exercising with pain our Get Active section of the website contains a bunch of handy tips, advice and information on everything from getting started, to fitting exercise around a busy schedule, to the best and worst foods you can eat for exercise. If you’re looking for more specific information on exercising with backache, check out our blog for exercises for upper and middle back pain which can help to provide some relief.

3) Take breaks

Upper and middle back pain and back strain are often caused by repetitive movements so taking regular breaks from your usual routine can help to balance out the negative effects that this can cause. Now, that being said, taking a break is not the same as ‘bed rest’ as completely confining yourself to your bed won’t actually do your back pain any favours. In the case of back pain a combination of gentle movement and steps to changing any repetitive movements can have better results.

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4) Atrosan

Our Atrosan tablets contain extracts of the root of the herb Devil’s Claw. These tablets are licensed for the relief of rheumatic pain, muscular pain and backache. Atrosan tablets contain only natural ingredients and so can be used in conjunction with painkillers and can even be taken long-term. When it comes to back pain, particularly chronic back pain, herbs are definitely a pain relief option I wouldn’t miss out on. 

Where many conventional medications and treatments have unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects, herbs and naturopathic remedies often have little or no side effects. You can even make dietary swaps that can help to reduce inflammation and pain by cutting down on inflammatory foods like red meat and processed sugar and upping your antioxidant intake. The great news is that most herbs that can help to relieve muscle and joint pain can be easily accessed – all you have to do is open up your kitchen cupboard! To find out what top herbs we suggest for muscle and joint pain click here.

5) Reduce stress

If you’re frequently stressed your muscles will be frequently tensed. As a result, you can end up wearing your shoulders up next to your ears and – you guessed it – this will majorly contribute to upper back pain! More and more research is now coming to the conclusion that how you feel mentally can impact you on a physical level. 

According to research carried out by the Harvard Medical School, when we first experience back pain our pain sensitivity brain responses are activated. However, when we’re dealing with long-term or chronic back pain, our brain responses actually shift to the same responses that process our emotions.1

In times of stress our body releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline to help keep our body active and alert. While this process can be beneficial short-term from an evolutionary perspective, longer term it can cause excess inflammation, digestive distress and a weakened immune system. Excess inflammation in the body can aggravate existing conditions such as arthritis as well as heightening pain. For more details on how stress can interfere with your muscle and joint pain read my blog ‘Are your emotions to blame for your joint pain?’

Tips to reduce stress:

Practice deep breathing techniques which can help to reverse our automatic stress response and soothe the nervous system

Pin point what your stress triggers are.  When we know what triggers our stress we can be better prepared and can take steps towards managing and coping better

• Watch out for surprising foods that can put you in a rubbish mood!

• Try a herbal remedy such as our own licensed AvenaCalm to help relieve symptoms of mild stress and anxiety.


A.Vogel Atrosan Devil’s Claw Tablets

30 tablets

£ 11.50

Buy now

Relieves muscle & joint pain, backache and lumbago. Also available in 60 tablet size.
More info

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