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The Best Exercises For Mid Back Pain

When it comes to mid back and scapular pain, nothing beats a mid back prehab program with tons of thoracic spine mobility and stability work. Mid back pain can be caused by a variety of structures in the mid back itself like the thoracic spine, ribs, or trigger points in the upper back muscles. Furthermore, the pain could even originate from other regions, not in the mid back like the neck or shoulders. That’s a lot of potential pain generators and triggers! Making matters even more complicated is that it’s oftentimes difficult to recreate a “trigger”. In physio terms, a trigger is something that causes your familiar pain. Meaning if you ask yourself the question, “what typically causes my mid back pain?” The answer for many with mid back pain is typically something vague and difficult to pinpoint. “Uh, this weird position I put my arms in… it just aches… it’s always there, etc.” Don’t worry, this is common! But because of this conundrum, you can never go wrong with a holistic mid back prehab program focused on improving thoracic spine mobility and strength and above all else, keeping moving! Follow along in this article as you learn the best exercises for mid back pain!

 

Mid Back Pain? Desensitize Your Triggers and Move!

If you currently have mid back pain, before we [P]Rehab – we must rehab. The goal of rehab is to desensitize your mid back to those “triggers” we talked about earlier. And even if you don’t have any clear movement-based triggers, introducing general mobility into the mid back in a graded manner is always step one before progressing to more advanced exercises!

 

Gain Access To Mid Back Rehab Exercises!

neck midback program best exercises for mid back pain the prehab guys

Do you feel that you constantly have mid back stiffness and/or discomfort? If so, we have the solution for you! Neck and mid-back aches and pain often times get neglected until itโ€™s too late, turning a minor fixable ache into a potential chronic pain and debilitating issue. This program is an 8-week program designed to minimize pain and optimize your neck and mid back health. We make it easy and teach you how to self [P]Rehab your neck and mid back and keep them healthy for anything life throws at you through detailed exercise programming and our signature resource videos.

 

Learn Mobility Exercises For Your Stiff Back!

 

Mobility Exercises For Mid Back Pain

The cat cow is my go-to for desensitization. It’s a movement that is inherently easy to control if you have pain. And if you don’t, it just simply feels good. For mid back pain, the key is to bias the mid back region during the cat cow movement rather than the low back region.

 

Mid Back Exercise: Cat Cow Thoracic Spine Bias

Sample Mid Back [P]Rehab Program Exercise

 

Best Exercises For Thoracic Mobility: Thread The Needle To Open Book

Sample Mid Back [P]Rehab Program Exercise

Thread the needle is an all-time winner when it comes to the best exercises for mid back pain. This exercise combines a thread the needle with an open book exercise to hit rotation in both directions. The secret to unlocking more mobility through your thoracic spine is to use your eyes when turning! Notice how I look in the direction I want to turn. You’ll find yourself getting more degrees of rotation in any exercise by guiding yourself with your eyes!

Also, notice how I use my fingers to “get a little extra rotation” during the thread the needle. Try to get as much rotation actively as you can on your own first. Then, use your fingers to gain a couple more degrees of rotation as you exhale and relax your body. You can also use a foam roller like in this video to get more rotation.

If putting weight through your shoulder/wrist is an issue, a simple solution is to lie on your side and perform the just the side-lying open book exercise. You’ll want to perform it on both sides.

LISTEN: POSTURE WITH [P]REHAB

posture the prehab guys podcast

 

Sidelying Open Book

This is one of the best exercises for mid back pain! There are a thousand different ways to work on thoracic spine extension. I’m a big fan of using a foam roller to “mobilize” your thoracic spine in segments. You can also roll out the erector spinal muscles on each side of your back in a sweeping motion. The biggest keys when using a foam roller for your mid back are:

  • Make sure your head is supported/not completely flaccid and relaxed

 

  • Only roll your mid back. Don’t roll your lower back.

 

  • It should feel good and comfortable!

 

Mid Back Foam Rolling

Sample Mid Back [P]Rehab Program Exercise

If you don’t have a foam roller, simply use a towel roll against a chair. This is a great alternative if you have issues getting up and down off the ground as well!

 

Seated Thoracic Mobilization

This is a great exercise that you can perform essentially anywhere! I love it as a “movement break” or “posture snack” exercise. If you sit a lot at work, this is a great way to oppose the increased thoracic kyphosis (rounded mid back) position we usually fall into.

 

Learn More Mid Back Exercises!

neck midback program best exercises for mid back pain the prehab guys

Neck and mid-back aches and pain often times get neglected until itโ€™s too late, turning a minor fixable ache into a potential chronic pain and debilitating issue. This program is an 8-week program designed to minimize pain and optimize your neck and mid back health. We make it easy and teach you how to self [P]Rehab your neck and mid back and keep them healthy for anything life throws at you through detailed exercise programming and our signature resource videos.

 

Exercises For Mid Back Pain: Mobilize – Then Strengthen

After mobilizing, a mid back prehab program wouldn’t be complete without some properly dosed strengthening and loading to build a strong back! I’ve included some of my go-to exercises for building up a strong back – you’ll notice that strengthening the mid-back essentially means the entire pillar from the shoulders to the hips. Furthermore, your strengthening exercises should address all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, and transverse).

Prone Snow Angels

I’m a big fan of any prone swiss ball work as your entire back must actively be on to stabilize your pillar. It’s a great entry-level exercise if you currently have mid back pain that hopefully shouldn’t aggravate any of your symptoms. Adding the snow angel component also hits many of the scapular stabilizers like the traps and rhomboids.

 

Mid Back Strengthening Exercises Can Help Too!

Any front rack squat/lunge like a goblet squat, Zercher squat, or front squat will force your mid back muscles to turn on to maintain proper positioning. Again, it’s a very easy way to learn to turn your mid back muscles by simply holding a weight in front of you while doing a leg exercise you are comfortable with. The key is to not let the weight pull you down. Your goal is to try to maintain an upright position!

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

 

Barbell Deadlift

Working up to a weighted barbell deadlift would be the ultimate holy grail when it comes to mid back prehab. But if you’re not comfortable with a barbell deadlift, there are still tons of other deadlift variations you can perform without a barbell that will strengthen your mid back similarly!

 

READ: DEADLIFT WARM-UP ESSENTIALSย 

deadlift warmup essentials best exercises for mid back pain the prehab guys

 

Thoracic Spine Active Rotation

 

This is a super tough drill that Arash makes look easy. The key is to minimize any bending away from the wall. Try toย just rotate your mid back.

 

Best Exercises For Mid Back Pain: Sideplank

The sideplank hits everything in your mid back, shoulder girdle, and hip to truly build a bulletproof flank. You can regress the exercise by dropping onto your knees. If you have a TRX available try TRX sideplanks! The TRX is amazing for strengthening the mid back as you have to stabilize your pillar the entire time.

 

What About My Posture And My Mid Back Issues?

Mid back pain can definitely be posture related. Long days of sitting. Computer work. Driving. Studying. Reading. Gaming. Want to know what’s similar between all the previous examples?

A lack of movement

Improving your posture can be as simple as taking movement breaks throughout the day! It doesn’t have to be a long 15-minute walk around the office (although that would be great!), and can easily be taking a standing break for 10 seconds. Or simply shifting from an upright sitting posture to a reclined sitting posture. Movement is medicine! Check out some of these stretches you can do at your desk below!

 

Work Stretches for Mid Back Prehab

And remember, your posture does not have to be perfect! Check out this video by Dr. Greg Lehman on why perfect posture does not exist!

 

Is Your Perfect Posture Causing Your Back Pain?

 

Closing Thoughts

There are a variety of exercises that can be implemented to improve overall quality of mid back health. This includes a combination of mobility exercises, motor control, stability exercises, functional movements, and strengthening! Most importantly above all is to keep yourself moving and move often!

 

Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

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