Please verify your email address to receive email notifications.

Enter your email address

We have sent you a verification email. Please check your inbox and spam folder.

Unable to send verification, please refresh and try again later.

  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Upper back muscle pain

    What exercises should I do for muscle pain in the back?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 5


    Ben Kewish


    Special interests: Complex pain syndromes, Back pain, Nerve injury, Headache and TMJ dysfunction, Elite sports performance, Clinical Pilates. It is every patient's right to experience … View Profile

    Like most health issues, it requires a little more information to answer with any authority.

    If you mean muscle pain in your lower back, then doing gentle rotation stretches with the painful side down (lying on sore side, shoulders flat, opposite leg rolling over to floor) can open up the painful side of the spine which means less joint and nerve compression, and less pain.

    Coupling this with some core exercises (exercises utilising the deep abdominal and lower back muscles to stabilise spine while adding challenges to body position) like bridging with your feet on a fitball (laying on your back) or simply position yourself on hands and knees with knees together and try to raise one arm at a time without moving your trunk or hips side to side (harder than it sounds). Ensure you're only engaging the deepest muscles by "drawing" lower belly in, don't tense/brace or bear down.

    If your pain is more in the upper back it could be postural, so being more aware of time spent on devices (facebook-itis), or computer, and doing regular stretches for your Pec muscles (arms up on corner of room and lean in) and postural holds (back against a wall,  pull shoulders and head back gently until you feel tightness between shoulder blades) and holding for a minute, several times throughout the day. If you're a gym type person, add in some seated row, reverse flies or similar back exercises to strengthen the muscles that support this area.

    Don't forget the foam roller and spiky ball  - while painful to use they can be really useful at releasing myofascial trigger points and mobilising a stiff spine.

  • 2


    Helen Potter

    HealthShare Member

    Back pain is varying and very individual.


    The best approach is to get an accurate diagnosis of what the underlying problem is before jumping around trying treatments.


    Generally if bending and curling makes your back pain worse than the opposite (arching and leaning back) MAY help if you have a simple stretch or compressing problem.


    However if you have a problem with overloading the spine when you sit or a lack of deep muscle tone, the exercises and treatment will be quite different. An experienced physiotherapist, in just one session, will find out what is wrong and how you can help yourself.  

    Kind Regards Helen Potter FACP

  • 1




    Senior physiotherapist graduated in 2004 and recognised as a specialist in Acupuncture in 2008 (Brazil), with a Master's in Chiropractic in 2014 (Brazil). Ex-president of … View Profile

    Hello, I suggest you to watch this quick video about exercise and back pain. 

    Regards, Diego

  • 1


    Murray Kovesy

    Massage Therapist, Myotherapist

    Murray is an experienced physical therapist that uses hands on therapy to treat all types of pain and injury. He loves helping his clients over … View Profile

    Muscle pain in the back can be treated initially by a phyiscal therapist and then you want to prevent it from coming back with strengtheing exercises. Depending on your back pain symptoms and location of pain will determine what exercises you what to perform.

    For a general tight back using a spikey ball in the hip and glute area is a very effective way to treat your back pain along with stretching your hip flexors. For the mid back area using a foam roller and yoga cat stretches will help relieve muscle tightness and pain. Always stretch your pecs in a doorway to prevent rounded shoulders and upper back curvature. You may need to strengthen your scapula muscles by doing row theraband exercises. 

    Check out some more helpful tips here to prevent back pain here;


    Murray Kovesy

    BHSc - Clinical Myotherapist

    Motion Myotherapy Northcote


  • As one of Australia’s most experienced chiropractors I have treated sporting, industrial and age-related injuries. However, the most common type of problem I encounter are … View Profile

    Sometimes the best exercise is simply to correct your posture ! The upper back area is very stable because of the ribcage. For this reason it's almost impossible for pain to originate from a spinal discs. The discs here are very well protected. The most likely source of discomfort is limited joint rotation due to tight spinal muscles which have been subjected to hours of poor posture.

    Often that area becomes very tight and painful due to your daily posture ie the type of work you do, your activities at home etc. Years of sitting every day at a computer for example will often lead to symptoms in the trapezius muscles (tops of shoulders) and between the shoulder blades.

    I would do a full medical history to rule out any pathology or fractures etc, then a physical analysis of the way you use your muscles and joints. Chiropractic massage and adjustment often alleviates the symptoms but will not have a sustained effect unless posture is addressed.

    I would analyse how you sit/work/stand, consider your workstation layout/ chair etc. Or, if you're at home full time, I'd look at your daily routine. These factors are what will make a long term difference. Coupled with an occasional check up to monitor your situation and provided there is no underlying pathology (see above), you should enjoy a significant improvement to your overall health.

answer this question

You must be a Health Professional to answer this question. Log in or Sign up .

You may also like these related questions

Ask a health question

Empowering Australians to make better health choices