Today we are looking at yoga poses for upper back tightness. I don’t know about you, but my upper back definitely feels tight after sitting and working at the computer all day. The upper back, also known as the thoracic spine, tends to be a tight area in many people, so I wanted to share some yoga poses that may help with this.
The poses in this post can be helpful in decreasing tightness in the upper back. The poses in today’s post cover all the motions of the thoracic spine, meaning you’re covering all the directions that the upper back moves. 🙂
Remember, all yoga poses should be pain free!
4 Yoga Poses for Upper Back Tightness
Although this is technically two poses, we’re going to group it into one because it’s nice to move on and off with these positions. Cat/cow is a great place to start as it is a nice warm-up for the spine.
These poses cover flexion and extension of the upper back.
1. Picture one is cow and picture 2 is cat.
2. Move on and off between these two positions with your focus on moving through the upper back.
3. Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips (knees should be hip width apart).
4. It’s nice to flow with the breath with these poses to get in the yoga state (inhale with cow, exhale with cat).
2. Seated side-bend
This pose covers a motion of the thoracic spine called side-bending, and it’s great at opening the side body.
1. This pose can be done in kneeling or sitting in easy pose.
2. Place left hand on floor to the left and right hand over head.
3. Reach through right fingertips to stretch the right side body.
4. Make sure the left shoulder stays down away from your ear.
5. Make sure your torso stays facing forward.
6. Repeat on the other side.
3. Thread the needle pose
This pose works on rotation of the upper back and it’s my personal favorite to do when my upper back feels tight.
1. Start on all fours.
2. Bring right arm through and underneath you to the left and relax on right shoulder.
3. Keep the left elbow bent to support you and gently twist to the left while keeping the right shoulder in contact with the floor.
4. Keep your head relaxed on the earth.
4. Cobra for thoracic extension
Although cobra pose tends to work more on the mobility of the lumbar spine (lower back), a slight adjustment of the hands isolates this pose more towards the upper back. If you adjust your cobra so your hands are further out in front, it’s a nice way to get some extension in the thoracic spine.
1. Start by laying on your stomach.
2. Instead of starting with your hands directly under your shoulders, bring them further out in front on the floor. (I like to start with my hands slightly above my head but find what feels best for you.)
3. You can be on your finger tips as shown in this photo or have your palms flat.
4. Keep the lower body relaxed as you straighten your elbows to lift the upper body; make sure not to lock out the elbows.
5. Relax back down on your stomach and repeat.
If you would like a quick guided practice specifically for upper back mobility, check out the video right below. This is a 10 minute practice that includes all of the poses listed above. This video may also be helpful if you need further instructions on any of the poses in this post.
All the information on this website – drtarasalay.com – is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Dr. Tara Salay does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (Dr. Tara Salay), is strictly at your own risk. Dr. Tara Salay will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.
From our website, you can visit other websites by following hyperlinks to such external sites. While we strive to provide only quality links to useful and ethical websites, we have no control over the content and nature of these sites. These links to other websites do not imply a recommendation for all the content found on these sites. Site owners and content may change without notice and may occur before we have the opportunity to remove a link which may have gone ‘bad’.
By using our website, you hereby consent to our disclaimer and agree to its terms.
Should we update, amend or make any changes to this document, those changes will be prominently posted here.
Exercise and physical activities:
Before beginning any of these exercises, you should consult with your physician, assess your fitness level, and follow all safety instructions.
Any/all information provided by Dr. Tara Salay is of general nature and should not be taken as medical and/or other health advice pertaining to any individual specific health and/or medical condition. You should be in good physical condition and able to participate in these exercises and you should understand that when participating in same, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in these exercises, you agree that your participation is voluntary and that you are participating at your own risk. By engaging in these exercises you agree to assume any/all risk(s) of injury. Should your participation in these exercises result in injury, you agree to release, discharge, and hold Dr. Tara Salay a harmless from any/all losses, liabilities, injuries, and/or damages resulting from any/all known or unknown claims and/or causes of action.