Exercises for the upper back

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In back pain, movement and stretching exercises are generally considered to be one of the most effective means of treating prolonged pain and preventing recurrent pain events. ¹,² Even the upper back is no exception: guidelines recommend regular stretching exercises as an extremely effective measure 3.

From a medical point of view, the upper back is a vast area: Experts consider not only the back, but also the area around the shoulder blades, between the shoulder blades and the neck and its musculature a unit. 4 This area is very prone to pain and discomfort- Upper back and neck pain is one of the most common reasons for visits to the doctor. 3

When are exercises suitable for treating upper back pain?

So-called specific causes of neck pain, i.e. physical changes, causing the neck pain are rare.

As with lower back pain, changes in the spine in the neck area are common on medical images, but are rarely the cause of the discomfort. 5

First of all, we can spread the good news: Only in very rare cases (probably less than one percent) diseases considered as medically dangerous, are the cause of neck pain. 3

Most cases of neck pain are known as so-called nonspecific neck pain. In specific terms, this means that no concrete modification can be found that explains the complaints and determines further treatment.

As with non-specific low back pain, the following applies to all such nonspecific neck pain: Activity is significantly better than resting and the prognosis of newly occurring neck pain is basically good. Doctors should inform about this at the beginning of the treatment. 6

If upper back pain has persisted for more than four weeks, professionals talk about so-called subacute neck pain. This moment already slightly changes the course of the treatment. 6

From this point on it is also scientifically proven that physiotherapeutic exercises can improve the complaints in the upper back area. Physiotherapy or a combination of physiotherapy and manual therapy can alleviate the symptoms of these studies. 7

How should I train in case of upper back pain?

Since the upper back is a functional unit of the stabilizing muscles of the spine, the shoulder girdle, and neck, training in case of upper back pain should also be multi-layered:

– Our spine does not stabilize itself, but instead relies permanently on the assistance of the back muscles. 8 Well-trained back muscles are better equipped for this challenge.
– In everyday life, we often move very one-sided due to our lifestyle. As a result, important stabilizing muscles on the spine are often poorly developed because they are not needed. A regression of the back muscles is often clearly observed especially in patients with longer existing back pain. 9.10
– Unilateral movement not only cause a regression of muscle function, but fascia may also play a role. Studies have observed a shortening of fascia of the back (i.e. that is the tissue that encloses the muscles) in patients with back pain. 11 This is supported by the fact that stretching exercises also help against the symptoms of back pain. 12

Effective training in the case of pain in the upper back is also possible from home

When putting together an effective workout, there are however some points to consider, such as a well-balanced training plan that includes the individual parts of the back and the entire body. Complicated devices are certainly not necessary for an effective training against back pain.

If the back pain has been clarified by a doctor and no cause that needs treatment has been found (so-called red flags), nothings usually speaks against back training at home.

Those who train regularly form a routine after only a short time and tend to miss the exercises if they skip a day.

Nevertheless, training at home is of course a challenge for motivation and personal timing. 13 Reminder functions and messages, such as an app, however, help many people to build up and maintain new habits, such as training. 14

Herefore Kaia Back Training was developed. This is a therapy, based on the multimodale therapy, which can help you integrate the training into your daily routine. It strengthen your back in the long term and prevents against back pain. Download it here and start your personalized training today.