How to Loosen Up Your Upper Back with These Easy Stretches

If you spend several hours a day hunched over your computer or locked in a sedentary position, you’re not alone. This is the position that most people assume when working in an office, and the pandemic has only made the situation worse for some. Unfortunately, staying in this position for an extended period of time can result in tightness and discomfort in your upper back. However, it’s possible to remediate this by incorporating simple stretches into your schedule.

What causes upper back tightness?

There are several things that can cause tightness in the upper back. The most common culprits are poor posture, sitting for extended periods, and a lack of exercise. Your shoulder blades and upper muscles can become sore as a result of this. As a result, it can cause a lot of discomfort, and eventually, it may affect your daily activities. Fortunately, there are several stretches that can help relieve the tension in your upper back.

Stretching is essential to loosen the upper back

Your muscles contract and shorten when you sit for an extended period, resulting in stiffness and tightness. Stretching and extending your muscles are essential for maintaining flexibility, reducing tension and stiffness in your back, and preventing an array of complications.

Upper Back Stretches to Loosen Them Up

1. Doorway Stretch

The door frame stretch is a really good way of stretching out your upper back. For this exercise, stand in a doorway with both arms in a T-shape against the frame, one arm on each side. Take a step forward with one foot, leaving the other foot behind you, and push your chest forward. Hold this stretch for at least 10 seconds and then change your legs forward to stretch the other side.

2. Seated Twist Stretch

The seated twist stretch is effective in loosening the upper back muscles. Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Place your right hand on the ground behind you and place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Slowly twist your body to the right side, keeping your left arm straight to the side. Hold this pose for 10 seconds. Take a deep breath, and then switch sides, placing your left hand on the ground and your right elbow on the outside of your left knee, while your left arm stretches out.

3. Shoulder Blade Squeeze

This stretch is really simple and can be done anywhere, at any time. All you need to do is sit or stand straight with your shoulders set back and down. Try to squeeze your shoulder blades together as much as possible, and hold the position for at least 5 seconds before relaxing. Repeat the squeeze and release motions for fifteen to twenty repetitions.

4. Chest Expansion

The chest expansion exercise can help to lengthen and release the muscles in the upper back. Begin by interlocking your hands behind your back, and then straighten out and lift your arms up as far as possible. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, and then release.

5. Cat and Cow

The Cat and Cow stretch is great for loosening up your upper back and neck. Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands placed slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slowly round your spine by pushing your mid-back towards the ceiling, lowering your head towards the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then slowly drop your spine down and lift your head in the opposite direction to make a “U” shape with your body. Hold the “U” position for 5 seconds, then repeat the process for fifteen to twenty iterations.

Precautions before stretching

It’s vital to know the precautions before beginning any physical activity to prevent injuries. Stretching too much a few times a week is preferable to not stretching at all. Try to avoid straining your muscles when performing stretches. If you experience any pain or stiffness, ease off or stop the stretch altogether. When performing stretches, remember to breathe slowly and deeply, and only stretch until you feel mild tension, not severe pain.

Closing notes

Here are some tips to keep in mind to help alleviate upper back pain. Maintaining good posture, staying active, stretching often, and taking regular breaks from sitting still for extended periods of time can all help to alleviate discomfort.

Common Questions Related to How to Stretch Upper Back

  • Q: How can I tell if I have a problem with my upper back if I don’t have any noticeable symptoms?
    A: If you’re not experiencing any symptoms, it’s difficult to tell if there’s a problem. However, check with a physician or physical therapist to ensure that you’re stretching the right muscles and doing it properly.
  • Q: How can I relieve tension in my upper back after sitting at my desk for a long time?
    A: Perform stretches and exercises in conjunction with frequent breaks to help relieve tension in your upper back. Shoulder blade squeezes, door squats, and neck rolls are all relaxing stretches that you can do at your desk.
  • Q: Is it safe to perform upper back stretches on a daily basis?
    A: Yes, it’s generally safe to perform upper back stretches every day as long as you don’t overdo it. However, if you experience any pain or discomfort, visit a healthcare provider for guidance.
  • Q: What should I do if my upper back muscles are sore after a workout or a lot of sitting?
    A: Take frequent breaks during your workday, perform stretches to loosen your muscles, and apply heat or cold compresses to ease discomfort in your upper back.


  • The Washington Post
  • The Mayo Clinic
  • The Harvard Medical School

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