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8 Best Mid Back Stretches for Middle Back Pain

Stiffness in the mid back can significantly impact your posture and other aspects of your everyday life. More often than not, mid back tightness or pain is the direct result of hunching over a desk all day. Fortunately, stretching your back can relieve this pain. 

Movements that elongate the spine, stretching both the front and back of the body, can help correct your posture and soothe pain. Let’s take a look at some of the best mid back stretches for back pain.

What Causes Middle Back Pain? 

Middle back pain occurs just below the neck and above the bottom of your rib cage. This area is known as the thoracic spine, which accounts for the T1-T12 vertebrae.

Disks exist between these vertebrae. Poor posture is often the primary cause of middle back pain, because slouching forces the muscles and ligaments to work harder to keep you balanced in a slouch. When you overwork these muscles, you can easily experience aches or tight muscles that cause back pain.

Other common causes include muscle sprain or spasm, herniated disk, fall or injury, obesity, aging, and osteoarthritis. 

Middle Back Stretches

The great thing about mid back stretches is that you can do most of them anywhere. Here are some of the top dynamic back stretches you can try today to relieve middle back pain.

1. Cat Cow Stretch

These gentle movements help to warm up the spine for more difficult postures that follow in this article. Cat-Cow a simple yoga exercise that stretches and loosens the shoulders and muscles that run along the spine. 

  • Start on all fours in a tabletop position, keeping your hands directly beneath your shoulders and knees under your hips. Feel free to put a blanket under your knees if you feel discomfort. 
  • Spread your fingers wide and make sure your weight is evenly distributed between your hands and feet. 
  • Inhale and gently arch your back, sending your pelvis up and heart forward while dipping your belly down. Lift your head to extend your gaze. 
  • Exhale and round your back like a cat, tucking your pelvis and letting your head hang. Repeat five to seven times, feeling your spine open with each cat/cow. 

2. Seated Twist

This is an excellent stretch because it can help you determine how tight the muscles in your mid back actually are. At the same time, Seated Twist helps increase your range of motion in each direction. The main thing to remember is to sit up straight and keep the head in a neutral position.

  • Sit on the floor or a chair and cross your legs, or you can keep them extended out in front of you. Make sure to sit tall and pull your shoulder blades together and down. 
  • Slowly twist to your left side, placing your right hand on the outside of your left knee and left hand behind your back for support. 
  • You should not feel strain or pain; rather, you should feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then return to center. 
  • Repeat on the other side. 

3. Passive Backbend

Passive Backbend is a simple stretch that can provide great relief from tension that builds up after sitting at a desk all day. Because you support the body with an object in this position, you get to give in to the stretch to release tightness. 

  • Place a foam roller or rolled up towel on the floor and lie on it so that it rests between your shoulder blades. It should be perpendicular to the spine, not running along the spine from neck to tailbone. 
  • If you need to elevate your head, place something under it. Extend your arms out to the sides at a 45-degree angle and remain in this position for one to two minutes. 

4. Cobra Pose

This gentle backbend works to both stretch and strengthen your back. It’s very easy to use your arm muscles to accentuate the backbend, but try to focus on engaging your back muscles in a more effective way to release the most tension. 

  • Lie on your stomach, keeping your chin on the mat. Bend your arms and place your hands on the mat next to your shoulders. 
  • On a big inhale, curl your chest off the ground, engaging your back muscles instead of primarily pressing up with your arms and chest. 
  • You can press your hands lightly into the floor to deepen your stretch. Just note that about 95% of the backbend should come from the back. 
  • Hold for two deep breaths and release. Repeat two more times. 

5. Thread the Needle

Although Thread the Needle is commonly used to help open up the shoulders, it also helps to stretch the latissimus dorsi. Loosening up these muscles, in addition to the other ones in the upper back, can help relieve mid back tension.

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees below the hips. 
  • Keep your hips, knees, and feet still as you walk your hands out in front of you. Your arms should be straight out in front of you, and you should feel a gentle stretch along your sides. 
  • Take your right arm and thread it under your left while you rotate your chest to the left. Your right hand and outside of your right shoulder should rest on the floor, as should the right side of your head. 
  • Try to sink deeper into the stretch and look up toward the ceiling if that is comfortable. Remain here for 20-30 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other side. 

6. Child’s Pose

This restful pose is a very simple yoga pose that helps you elongate the back passively. There are several variations to this pose, but the most common involves widening the knees and lowering yourself as far as is comfortable. 

  • Begin in a kneeling position with your hips and buttocks resting on the lower legs and feet. 
  • Widen your knees so that they face out comfortably. Slowly but surely, fold the body forward, bringing your chest to your knees and extending your hands in front of you.
  • If possible, bring your forehead to the floor and keep your arms stretched out in front. Widen your fingertips to root yourself in Child’s Pose. 
  • Rest here for about 30 seconds and then walk your hands up to return to the starting position. 

7. Bridge Pose

Another gentle back-opening stretch is the Bridge Pose. Not only does it help widen your mid back, but it also stretches your chest, which can tighten as a result of slouching. 

  • Lie flat on your back, bend your knees, and plant the soles of your feet a few inches away from your tailbone. Keep your hands by your sides and your fingertips should be able to touch your heels. 
  • Press your shoulders into the floor, almost as if you are tucking them further back to puff out your chest. 
  • Root your feet into the floor and squeeze your glutes to press your hips toward the ceiling. 
  • Clasp your hands under your buttocks and press them into the ground for support. 
  • Bring awareness to your upper back and keep that area open throughout the pose. Remain here for about 5-10 deep breaths, and then lower yourself back to the ground. 

8. Lat Side Stretch

This is a great lat stretch to do while standing or sitting, but just remember to keep the spine elongated and chest up. It’s a very simple stretch, but don’t overdo it because you don’t want to injure your shoulders. 

  • Stand or sit up straight and raise your right hand straight up over your head. 
  • Bend the elbow and drop your right toward your upper back. 
  • Place the left hand on your right elbow and gently pull the right arm to the left side so that you feel a stretch along the right latissimus dorsi. 
  • Hold this pose for about 20-30 seconds, leaning a little more to the left side to deepen the stretch. Return to center and then repeat on the other side. 

Relieve Middle Back Pain Today!

Back pain is a common problem that can have mild to severe effects on your overall health and wellbeing. Regularly stretching the middle back can help you loosen, lengthen, and strengthen muscles to help reduce back pain and improve posture. You can complement the stretches in this article by practicing good posture, staying mobile, and engaging in yoga or pilates