As most desk workers know, poor posture and long hours spent hunched over a keyboard can lead to back problems. Many of these problems will be localized in the upper back, specifically around the neck and shoulder areas. A regimen of stretching can help to relax the muscles and ease soreness. Those who suffer from upper back problems should consider the following stretches:
- Supine Stretch for the Upper Back
The person performing this exercise will lie supine with their arms at their sides. They will raise their arms two to three inches off the floor. They should then tile their head back and lift their shoulders off the ground. They should try to hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
- Trapezius Squeeze
While in a sitting or standing position, the individual should squeeze their scapulae (shoulder blades) together and hold the position for at least five seconds. They should then relax and do it again.
- Thoracic Arch
This exercise should be performed while seated. The individual performing it should clasp their hands behind their head. They should then arch their neck and their back until they are looking straight upwards. They should attempt to hold the position for at least 30 seconds.
- Standing Column Stretch
The individual should stand before a column or pillar with their toes touching its base. They should wrap their arms around the column or pillar and interlock their fingers on the other side. With their fingers firmly interlocked, they should arch their upper back outward and away from the pillar. They can adjust their position to ensure that the sorest parts of their back are stretched.
- Deltoid and Trapezius Stretch
While sitting or standing, the individual performing this exercise should stretch both of their arms out in front of them. They should cross their arms so that their right forearm is under their left elbow. They can then use their right forearm to pull their left elbow to the right. The stretch should then be repeated on the other side.
- Trapezius Extension
The individual performing this exercise should sit on the floor with their legs stretched out before them. They should then bend at the waist to touch their toes. They should hold the position for 15 seconds then straighten up and repeat.
Adequately exercising the back can strengthen the muscles and eliminate pain for many who suffer from chronic upper back problems. Stronger muscles will be better able to support the spine. Exercises that strengthen back muscles and provide relief from upper back problems include cardio exercises; these should be considered in addition to a daily regimen of stretching.