Fix Upper Back Tightness FOR GOOD

Understanding Upper Back Tightness

Struggling with persistent upper back tightness? Stretching, breathing exercises, and foam rolling not working? Then it’s time for an alternative approach.

Upper back mobility programs are missing the key ingredients to releasing tension.

But in this post, we will dive into solving these issues. Be prepared to get more space between your shoulder blades.

Why Does the Upper Back Get Tight?

Upper back tightness often stems from 2 related things:

  1. Increased torso muscle activity
  2. Compression of the ribcage front-to-back

You can’t resolve this shape change by stretching or forcing air. The solution is to use ways that increase front-to-back ribcage space. Do this, muscles will relax and you’ll FINALLY be less tense.

Here’s how to do it

Step 1: Expand the Ribcage

Using a foam roller can create lateral compression, which opens up the front-to-back ribcage.

  • Lie on your side with a foam roller placed on the middle third of your ribcage.
  • Rest your head on pads or pillows.
  • Align your top arm with your torso in an abducted position, keeping your chest forward.
  • Inhale silently through the nose and exhale, melting into the foam roller.
  • Avoid reaching with the top arm to prevent side bending.
  • Perform five sets of five breaths, twice daily for 2-4 weeks.

Step 2: Create Upper Back Space

Rotating is a great way to do this, and especially so if you close off the front side of the body. This move combines those two ingredients.

  • Lie on your back with feet together, knees apart.
  • Weight bear on four points: each PSIS and between the shoulder blades.
  • Press your arms against your thighs, maintaining pressure.
  • Inhale through the nose and exhale, rotating to one side.
  • Ensure even weight bearing and avoid lower back rotation.
  • Alternate sides, performing 2-3 sets of 10 rotations per side, twice daily for 2-4 weeks.

You can also use more focused breathing into the upper back to achieve this goal. But you DO NOT want to force it. This exercise makes air going there the only option.

  • Place a mini band around your wrists.
  • Lean against a wall with forearms and elbows lower than shoulders.
  • Weight bear on the pisiform and elbow.
  • Inhale silently, exhale and push slightly away from the wall.
  • Rotate arms outward, feeling shoulder blade muscles engage.
  • Avoid overreaching or crunching.
  • Perform five sets of five breaths, twice daily for 2-4 weeks.

Advanced Upper Back Expansion

If you add some rolling into the above actions, then NO ONE will mess with you. I like this move to achieve that.

  • Sit with one knee to chest, the other leg straight.
  • Reach across to grab your toes with the opposite hand.
  • Inhale and roll backward
  • Assist by pushing off with your opposite arm.
  • Exhale and return to the start.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10 rolls per side, twice daily for 2-4 weeks.

Summing Up

Knowing upper back biomechanics can better equip you to reduce tension. Finally getting you better mobility.

Want more moves to open up between the shoulder blades? Check out this post.