7 Great Stretches for Your Mid-Back
Americans sit more than they should—according to a JAMA study, the average daily time spent sitting for adults increased to 6.4 hours between 2007 and 2016. Excess sitting has been linked to numerous chronic health issues, and it can also affect your posture—and even small shifts in posture can strain your middle back, making it tight and even achy at times. "Many people suffer from issues related to middle back pain, making it a real concern," says Steve Knauf, DC, executive director of Chiropractic and Compliance at The Joint Chiropractic in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Back pain occurring anywhere between the bottom of your rib cage and base of your neck is considered middle back pain. Numerous causes of this type of pain can be at play. Chief among them are postural issues and weakened abdominals. "Rounding your shoulders, having a forward head posture, and carrying excessive weight around your stomach can all lead to an increased curve of your mid-back," Knauf says. That increased curve can increase the amount of pressure on your spine, leading your back, even the middle part, to wind up stiffening.
If your mid-back tension is due to poor posture or lack of motion, stretching can be an effective relief strategy, Knauf says. Of course, if you're experiencing not only tightness, but also pain, discuss your symptoms with your doctor before you jump into a stretching program. Below are seven stretches that help increase mobility, undo tightness, and hopefully reduce some pain in the mid-back area. They provide awesome benefits even if you don't suffer from tightness at the moment. "Stretching the mid-back without the presence of pain is important in maintaining good posture and an appearance of confidence," says Mara Kimowitz, owner of StretchSource in Boonton, N.J. It can help you develop good habits and prevent pain from starting in the future. Do these seven stretches as frequently as you'd like, even just performing one at a time if that's all your schedule allows.