Best Upper Back Stretches

Back pain is, unfortunately, becoming a larger problem as more and more people have desk jobs or are hunched over in a chair for most of the day.

Poor posture is causing people to get tense muscles in their upper backs.

So whether you have back pain from poor posture or an injury, we have compiled a list of some of the best and easiest stretches you can do to ease and prevent back pain.


For this stretch, you will need to get on all fours with your hands and knees the same width apart and keep your spine relaxed.

When inhaling, tuck your pelvis in and curve your spine up into an arch. The top of your forehead should be facing the ground.

On the exhale you do the reverse movement. It should start with you raising your tailbone and then curving your spine into a dip. Attempt to push your chest slightly forward to get a better stretch.

Repeat this stretch a couple more times.

Chair Rotation

This exercise is performed while sitting down so is great to do while you’re at your desk.

First, you sit on the chair sideways so that one of your arms is close to the back of the chair.

Next, hold the back of the chair with both hands and rotate your torso to face the back of the chair, try to keep your legs still.

Hold this position for around 10 seconds and focus on keeping your breathing steady.

Repeat this on the other side.

Child’s Pose

Kneel on the floor with your knees far apart but your feet touching. You want to be sitting on your feet.

Slowly lower your torso between your knees and extend your arms out in front of you. Keep your shoulders relaxed while doing this and have your butt remain on your feet.

Try to get your forehead as close to the ground as you comfortably can. Once you are as far down as you can, hold that position and breathe evenly.

Ease yourself back into starting position and then repeat.

Corner Stretch

Corner Stretch

Stand in the corner of the room and place your forearms on the 2 walls. Have your elbows at an equal height to your shoulders.

Step one leg into the corner of the room with your knee slightly bent. You will begin to feel the muscles in your shoulders and chest stretch.

Hold this position and have steady breaths before repeating on the other foot.

The farther away you stand from the corner, the larger your lunge will be and thus the bigger the stretch.

Neck Rolls

This is a simple technique that you can do essentially anywhere. You can be sitting or standing up.

Relax your shoulders and have your arms by your side or your hands in your lap if you are sitting down.

Tilt your head so that your right ear is closer to your right shoulder. Ensure that your shoulders are constantly relaxed.

Keep your head there and slowly rotate your head so that your chin is pointing to your shoulder.

Rotate your head back and then lean your head back to the center.

Repeat this action on the other side.

Seated Mermaid

As this exercise suggests, you perform it while sitting down but you can stand up if you wish.

Relax your shoulders and bend your right arm over your head in an arched motion. Continue to reach across until you feel a slight tugging on your side.

Hold this position and even your breath. Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other side.

Shoulder Rolls

This is a simple stretch that can be done sitting or standing. 

Have your arms relaxed by your side. Slowly roll your shoulders back in a circular motion, lift your shoulders when you are doing this. Repeat this action but roll your shoulders forward.

For a bigger stretch, you can raise your shoulders higher.


This stretch is performed lying down on your stomach so make sure you have a mat underneath you or you are on a soft surface. This is good exercise for both your upper and lower back.

Have your arms stretched out in front of you and your head lifted off the floor.

Inhale and lift your arms and legs off the floor by pressing your pubic bone into the floor.

Slowing move your limbs up and down while keeping them straight, almost like you are swimming. Do this a few times before relaxing your muscles and lying back on the floor.

Thoracic Extension

This is good to do at your desk chair as you need the chair to perform this stretch.

Sit in your chair with your back as straight as possible. Have your hands behind your head for support.

Lean back with your head tipping over the back of your chair, and support your head as your back curves.

Hold this position for a few seconds while evenly breathing. Return back to the start position before repeating.

You can perform this stretch on the floor with a foam roller placed underneath your thoracic spine.

Final Thoughts

Try to stretch regularly to see the best results. Ideally, you want to be stretching a couple of times per day.

If your back pain is mainly from sitting at a desk, try to get up and move around every hour or so.

Tips for when you are stretching are to keep your breathing as steady as possible and to stop stretching when you feel pain.

You only want to hold a stretch or continue stretching until your muscles can feel it.

The back is one of the most important parts of your body with it supporting all of your limbs.

You need your back muscles daily for essentially every task, so it is important to take care of them.