When left untreated, back pain can prevent us from functioning well throughout the day. Specific movements, such as bending over to lift objects and turning to check for oncoming traffic, becomes fairly restricted. If the pain persists and continues for days at a time, it becomes a must to incorporate exercises, such as mid-back stretches, into your daily routine. Taking the time to do some work, even for just 10-15 minutes a day, can already impact your back positively.
Here are some of the best middle back stretches that relieve and eliminate back issues. They include routines that extend your body both front and back, elongate your spine, and build muscles that aid in improving your overall posture:
The cat-cow stretch is a classic yoga stance that you can do before and after each workout session to loosen up the middle back. To perform the routine, follow these simple steps:
- Begin on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Ensure your knees are at least a fist-width apart, yet feel free to rest them once you experience any signs of discomfort.
- Spread your fingers wide and distribute weight evenly throughout your hand.
- Inhale and position your back into an arch. Gently send your pelvis upward and your chest forwards while dipping your belly down and your face up. This is your cow. You may hold this stretch for a couple of breaths before proceeding to the cat stretch.
- Exhale. Arch your back like a cat, forming a C with your spine. Then, look down and tuck in your pelvis as you let your head hang loose. While in this position, make sure your shoulder blades are pushed away from your spine.
- Repeat about 5-7 times. Feel your spine begin to open while allowing the stretch to deepen as you warm up.
This pose that brings you back to when you were a kid is a playful yet soothing pose that effectively alleviates middle back pain.
- Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Position your knees in a way that they’re wider than the width of your hips, but take care not to stretch them too far.
- Bend your knees and push your hips back. If doable, turn your toes inward. Continue to stretch back as low as you can or until your hamstrings are resting between your calves.
- Straighten your arms and allow them to relax in front of you. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds while keeping your neck and shoulder relaxed.
To come out of the pose, crawl your hands toward your legs and sit up slowly. Let your head be the last to come up. For best results, repeat the child’s pose three times daily.
The seated twist is one of the restorative mid-back stretches that is great for spinal mobility and helps tone your belly, massage internal organs, and relieve middle to lower back pain. This stretching routine that’s both relaxing and invigorating is often performed towards the end of a sequence.
The following are the steps to perform a seated twist:
- Sit on a chair or on the floor cross-legged, if possible.
- Inhale, sit up straight and place your right hand behind you while bringing your left hand to your right knee.
- Exhale and gently twist your chest going to the right. While lengthening through the spine, feel the twist wring out the tension in your middle back. Focus your attention on the chest area and feel your back open. Take care not to over-twist by pulling on your knee or twisting too aggressively.
- Look over your right shoulder as far as your neck will allow. Hold this position for 3-5 breath cycles and release to center. Stay at the center for another breath cycle.
- Repeat these steps on the opposite side for the same amount of time. Continue repeating for both sides if desired.
When doing the seated twist, make sure to sit up straight to keep your spine long. While others attempt a deeper twist by hunching over, it’s recommended to keep your spine long to maximize the benefits of this posture.
The cobra pose is another of the middle back stretches that’s worth taking some time to work on. Not only does it relieve back pain, but it’s also effective in improving spine mobility and strengthening the spinal support muscles.
To perform the cobra pose, do as follows:
- While lying on your stomach, place your palms directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows straight back and tuck them into your sides.
- Pause for a moment, then exhale. Afterward, look down at your mat while keeping your neck in a neutral position. Do this with your pubic bone anchored to the floor.
- Inhale as you lift your chest off the floor. Roll your shoulders back and keep your low ribs on the floor. Make sure to keep your elbows tucked to your sides. Don’t allow either one to wing out to the side.
- Also, don’t crank your neck up and keep it neutral. Make sure that your gaze stays on the floor throughout the routine.
When performing the cobra pose, you might be tempted to use your arm muscles to achieve a deeper backbend. Instead of doing that, focus on engaging your back muscles. It’s more effective in releasing back tension and building muscles to improve posture, which is key to keeping pressure from accumulating in your back.
The bridge pose is another gentle routine that strengthens your back and opens both your body’s front and rear ends.
Follow these steps to perform a bridge pose:
- While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Your fingers should be able to touch your heels and your feet a few inches away from your tailbone.
- Keep your shoulders pressed into the floor. Gently tuck them further to your back to make your chest puff out slightly forward.
- Press into your feet and point your hips up to the sky.
- While clasping your hands beneath you, utilize your arms and feet to lift your hips gently toward the ceiling.
- Pay attention to your upper and middle back (the area behind your heart). Consciously send your chest toward the wall behind you. Doing this brings the backbend out of the lower back and more toward your middle and upper back.
- Maintain this position for 5-7 breath cycles before gently lowering down. Unclasp your hands and bring them to rest at your side.
- Repeat these steps three more times. Make sure to move slowly and mindfully when entering and exiting the pose.
When done correctly and consistently, the bridge pose provides numerous benefits, including:
- Strengthens the back, glutes, legs, and ankles
- Stretches the neck, chest, shoulders, and spine
- Calms the body and helps reduce stress
- Rejuvenates tired legs
- Improves digestion, among others
For this pose, keep in mind that you’re placing pressure, although slightly, on your neck. Ensure that you refrain from turning your head. It’s better to keep your gaze up to a particular point on the ceiling.
Back pain is a common problem that can have severe implications on your general health and well-being when left untreated. Regular performance of these middle back stretches can loosen and strengthen your muscles to improve posture and eliminate the pain.
When necessary, it’s also best to consult a therapist and develop a personalized therapy solution for your back pain.