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5 Upper Back Stretches to Alleviate Pain From Desk Work

If you’re struggling with upper back pain, you’re not alone. Many of us have jobs that require us to spend hours working on computers and cell phones, which can strain the neck and cause tension throughout the shoulders. Fortunately, the right upper back stretches can help.

Spending more time hunched forward disrupts the natural curvature of the spine and can cause chronic pain in the upper back — especially between the shoulder blades and at the base of the neck.

But luckily, yoga has an arsenal of tools to help. Use the following five poses to stretch out the upper back and neck, alleviate pain, and hopefully prevent future discomfort.

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First, Prepare for Your Upper Back Stretches

Before you begin these poses, center yourself in body and breath. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths as you lower your shoulders down away from your ears.

Then, lower your right ear to your right shoulder and take a deep breath. Move your chin toward your chest on the exhale. Inhale to bring your left ear over your left shoulder and take a deep breath here before moving back through to center.

Complete this back and forth motion at least five times before moving onto the following poses.

Remember: these upper back stretches are supposed to feel amazing. If at any time you experience pinching, tingling, or other pain-related sensations, back out of the stretch and find a more comfortable variation for your body.

The more you practice opening up with these postures, the deeper you’ll be able to go. Incorporating them into your daily routine (hello, stretch break!) is one of the best ways to ward off pain and the build up of tension.

 

Try These 5 Upper Back Stretches to Help Alleviate Pain From Computer Work:

1. Standing Forward Fold Variation (Uttanasana)

Seal of Yoga

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and sweep your hands overhead
  • Bring your hands down by your sides until they meet behind your lower back
  • Either interlace your fingers or hold a strap behind your back
  • Hinge at your hips to fold forward
  • Llift the clasp of your hands toward the sky and hold where you feel a gentle stretch
  • Release the clench of your jaw and stay for five deep breaths

2. Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)

Puppy

Let’s try it:

  • Come to a kneeling position with your hips over your heels
  • Lift your hips up and position them directly over your knees as you walk your hands forward
  • Open all ten fingers wide and extend your arms out on the ground
  • Sink your chest down to the mat and bring either your forehead or chin to the mat
  • Rest here for 10 breaths

3. Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana)

thread needle

Let’s try it:

  • Come to a tabletop position with your hips stacked over your knees and your shoulders stacked over your wrists
  • Inhale to open the right side of your chest and lift your right arm up to the sky
  • Exhale to thread your right hand underneath your left underarm, resting your right shoulder and ear on the ground
  • Extend your left arm forward in front of you with your palm planted down
  • Lower your left shoulder down to keep your shoulders square
  • Stay for five breaths and repeat on the other side

 
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4. Shoulder Opener With a Strap

Strap

Let’s try it:

  • Start in a comfortable seated position
  • Take a strap and wrap it around both hands slightly wider than the width of your shoulders
  • Engage through your arms to pull the strap taut and raise your hands overhead
  • If this is enough for you, stay here and take five deep breaths
  • If you’d like a deeper stretch, create an external rotation in your shoulders and bring your hands behind you to hover over the ground
  • Keep the tension on the strap as you slowly bring the strap back overhead and then down in front of you
  • Repeat the full motion three times

 

5. Shoulder Opener on the Floor

Shoulder Stretch

Let’s try it:

  • Begin lying on your stomach with both arms extended in a T-shape with your palms facing down
  • Roll over onto your left shoulder as your right shoulder rises off the mat
  • To go deeper, bend into your right knee and place your right foot behind your left leg
  • Place your right arm behind your back (or join your hands together)
  • Take five breaths here before returning to prone position
  • Repeat on the other side

 

Help Alleviate Back Pain With These Upper Back Stretches

Upper back pain can be frustrating and disheartening, especially when you can’t escape working at a computer.

If You Have a Desk Job, Your Body Will Thank You For These 5 Desk Yoga Poses

Taking a few minutes each day to stretch out your back, neck, and shoulders can work wonders by helping you release stress and create more spaciousness in your upper body.

The next time you feel a twinge in your upper back when working at your desk, take a break and practice these upper back stretches. You’ll feel energized, grounded, and ready to take on whatever the day has in store.

All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.
 

With Ashton August

36-minutes Class | All Levels

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