This blog post will offer the best exercises, stretches and strategies to help fix mid back pain.
How to fix Mid Back Pain
1. Aggravating Activities
2. Heat Pack
3. Pain Cream
4. Pain Medication
7. Mid Back Stretch
8. Torso twist
10. Mid Back Strengthening
11. Hunchback Posture
13. Seek Professional Advice
14. Differential Diagnosis
15. Ask Me A Question
1. Reduce exposure to aggravating activities
Simply put – Stop doing things that make your mid back pain worse!
(… or at very least, minimize your exposure to it.)
How can you expect your pain to improve if you continue to expose it to thing that aggravates it?
For example – If prolonged sitting makes the pain in the mid back worse, try not to sit for too long. Aim to get out of the sitting position every 30 minutes.
Note: The aim is NOT to completely rest your back. This can lead to the deconditioning of the muscles in the area. Do as much as you can comfortably tolerate.
2. Apply Heat Pack
Heat can help relax tight muscles, reduce pain and improve blood circulation.
Apply a heat pack for 10-20 minutes to the area where you are experiencing pain in the mid back region.
Alternatively – you can take a warm/hot shower and let the water cover the mid back.
(Note: If the hot pack is too hot, it may cause a burn on the skin. Only apply as much heat as you can comfortably and safely tolerate.)
3. Apply Pain Cream
Deep heat creams can help mask some of the pain that you may be experiencing in your back.
You can also consider using an Anti-Inflammatory cream to help reduce the inflammation.
4. Consider Taking Pain Medication
If you are finding it too difficult to tolerate the pain, you may need to consider taking pain medication.
The presence of high levels of pain may make the suggested exercise and stretches on this blog post too difficult to perform effectively.
(Note: Please consult your Primary Care Provider before taking any form of medication.)
5. Perform Releases to the Erector Spinae
The Erector Spinae is a group of muscles that is located on either side of the spine.
The muscles include:
As one of their main roles is to keep the torso up right, these muscles tend to be over active in many people.
a) How to Release the Erector Spinae:
- Lie down on your back on the floor.
- Keep your knees bent and both feet on the floor.
- Place a massage ball underneath the area of pain.
- Lean the weight of your torso on top of the massage ball.
- Perform circular motion over the massage ball.
- Do not hold your breath in. Relax!
- Make sure to cover the entire area of pain.
- Continue for 2 minutes.
- Continue on the opposite side. (If required)
Note: Do not place the massage ball directly on any bony surfaces. This may cause injury to the bone.
6. Decompress the mid back
This technique will help relax the area of pain in the mid back.
a) Decompression over an Exercise Ball
- Lie on top of a large exercise ball. (Facing downwards)
- Position your body so that your mid back is in line with the top of the ball.
- Completely relax your legs and allow them to dangle.
- Support your body using your hands only.
- Allow the toes to gently rest on the floor.
- Aim to feel a stretch in the middle back.
- Hold for 60 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
7. Stretch the mid back
This stretch is able to target mid back pain that is on one side.
- Sit down on a chair.
- Lean back and allow your upper torso to hunch forwards as much as possible.
- Place your left hand at the back of your head.
- Reach your right hand towards the outside of the left knee.
- Pull your head down in the direction of the left knee.
- Whilst maintaining this pressure, start to bend your torso towards the left knee.
- Aim to feel a stretch on the right side of your mid back.
- Try to take deep breaths in this position.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on other side. (If required)
8. Torso Twist
This is a good stretch that targets the joints of the middle back.
(Note: You may get a few clicks in your spine as you do this! This is a release of pressure within the joint.)
- Sit down on a chair.
- Place your hand on the outer side of the opposite knee
- With the other hand, grab onto the back of the chair.
- Rotate your spine as if you were trying to look behind you.
- Use your hands to help push you further into range.
- Oscillate in this position for 30 repetitions.
- Repeat on the other side.
9. Cat/Cow Exercise
The aim of this exercise is to improve the awareness and control over the mid back area.
- Assume the 4 point kneel position. (See above)
- Keep hands underneath the shoulders and knees underneath the hips.
- Transition between the following positions:
- Tilt your pelvis forwards as you arch your mid back.
- Tilt your pelvis backwards as you round your mid back.
- Aim to move the mid back region as much as you are able to.
- Perform 30 repetitions.
10. Mid Back Strengthening Exercise
Strengthening muscles can help build resilience in the mid back which can help it tolerate more load.
Try out these exercises to strengthen your back:
(Note: If your mid back pain worsens with these exercises, you may need to reduce the difficulty of the exercise.)
a) Superman Exercise
- Lie down on your stomach.
- Stretch out your arms in front of you.
- Lift your chest off the floor.
- Aim to feel a contraction of the muscles in your middle back.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times.
b) Mid back Strengthening Exercise
- Stand up right with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Raise your arms above your head and keep them in line with the body.
- Hinge forward at the hip.
- (The more you lean forward, the harder this exercise will be.)
- Remain lengthened throughout the spine.
- Keep your chin gently tucked in.
- Hold this position for as long as you can tolerate.
11. Address Hunchback Posture
Hunchback Posture (also known as having a pronounced Thoracic Kyphosis) is where the upper back is excessively rounded forward.
The thoracic spine forms a curved-like appearance (… which resembles the letter “C”).
This posture tends to place more pressure on the structures of the mid back region.
As the torso curves forwards, more demand is placed on the muscles of the mid back to counter act the forward displacement.
There are many exercises that can help address this postural issue, but here is one of the main stretches that you can try now:
a) Extension over Foam Roll
- Lie down on your back.
- Place a foam roller underneath the area where the upper back curves forwards the most.
- Support the weight of your head with your hands.
- To avoid straining the neck, keep your neck relaxed throughout this exercise.
- Keep your knees in a bent position and feet on the floor.
- Dig your heels into the ground, slightly lift your hips off the ground and place the weight of your torso onto the foam roller.
- Lean backwards.
- Aim to feel the foam roller pushing into the middle of the back.
- DO NOT push into pain.
- Oscillate in the end range position for 30 repetitions.
- Repeat 3 times.
Note: If using a foam roller is uncomfortable, try using something thinner. (eg. rolled up towel)
If you would like to completely address your Hunchback Posture, please see all of the exercises that I recommend in this blog post:
See Post: Hunchback Posture Exercises
Scoliosis refers to a spinal deformity which involves the presence of a lateral curvature (side bending) in the Thoracic and/or Lumbar spine.
If your mid back pain tends to be located on one side only, consider addressing any rotation and/or tilt in the spine.
As addressing Scoliosis can be quite complex, please feel free to have a look at these blog posts:
See Post: Scoliosis Exercises.
13. See a healthcare provider
If you have persisted with the suggested exercises on this blog post and have not seen any improvement in your mid back pain, I would suggest that you get a review by a Healthcare Provider.
They will be able to provide a specific assessment to identify other possible contributing factors to your mid back pain that may not be addressed this blog post.
The Healthcare Provider will look at:
- Muscle length
- Muscle strength
- Investigative Scans
(Note: Advise your Healthcare Provider that you have attempted the above exercises as this may assist them with their assessment.)
14. Differential Diagnosis
Pain in the middle back region is not always associated with a joint and/or muscle issue.
Other possible causes of middle back pain:
- Spinal fractures
- Rib fractures
- Referred pain from organs
- eg. Heart/Lung/Stomach/Liver/Gall Bladder/Pancreas/Esophagus
- Nerve pain
- Aortic Aneurysm
- Thoracic Tumor
If you suspect that you may be suffering from any of the above issues, it is essential that you follow this up with your Primary Care Provider.
You may require further investigation and/or medical intervention which goes beyond the scope of this blog post.
15. Ask Me A Question
If you would like to ask me a question, feel free to ask me in the comment section down below.
(I try my best to reply to every comment!)
Although I can’t conduct a full assessment on you, I will help point you towards the right direction.
Try out these 15 tips consisting of strategies, exercises and stretches to help fix your mid back pain.
What to do next
1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)
2. Come join me:
3. Start doing the exercises!
Disclaimer: The content presented on this blog post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole risk. Seek guidance from a healthcare professional before attempting any exercise. For more information: Medical Disclaimer.