Exercises for Mid Back Pain
If you suffer from mid-back pain, consult a physician before beginning any exercise program because your pain could be an indication of serious infury and exercising could exacerbate your condition. With your doctor's approval, exercise will strengthen the muscle groups that support your mid-back to help relieve pain and avoid future injury. Exercise at least 20 minutes per day, three or more times per week. Be sure to stretch for at least five minutes before and after exercising. Walking, "marching" in place or using an exercise bike or elliptical trainer are good warm-ups. Walking for five minutes after exercising will help to flush waste products from the muscles.
You may be tempted to focus on exercises that specifically target the mid-back, but it's important to exercise all the muscle groups that support it. These include the abdominal, back and buttocks muscles. Traditional exercises that target multiple muscle groups are an excellent way to address all of the key muscle groups at the same time, thus strengthening the mid-back and improving flexibility. Examples include swimming, walking and bicycle riding.
Mid-Back Sitting Exercises
Do these exercises while sitting in a chair or on a bench with your feet resting flat on the floor.
Lift your left arm until you feel a stretch in your rib area. Lower your arm and repeat with your right arm. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
Slowly reach for your toes, arching your back as you do so. Then, return to your original position while maintaining the stretch. Repeat several times, but stop immediately if you feel pain.
Mid-Back Floor Exercises
Do these exercises on a carpeted floor, rug or yoga mat.
While lying on your stomach with your arms straight along your sides, rotate your hands so the palms face upwards. Slowly raise your head, neck and back so they are off the ground. Hold, then release and repeat several times.
While lying on your stomach, use your hands to push the top half of your body up off the floor, but keep your hips flat on the floor. Raise only until you feel a comfortable stretch, then hold for eight to 10 seconds. Repeat about 10 times.
Start on all fours, then clasp your hands together in front of you and bend your elbows so they are touching the ground. Rotate your elbows until each arm forms a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower your head and, at the same time, arch your back upward. Hold this position several seconds, then lower your back, while keeping your head in the same position. Repeat 10 times.
Place a broom handle or other long stick behind your back and just below your neck. Hold one end in each hand and swing slowly to the right, then the left. Repeat several times.
Stand in front of a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your heels about 18 inches away from the wall. Tighten your abdominal muscles, then slide down the wall slowly until you are crouching with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold for five seconds and then slide back up the wall. Repeat five times. If you cannot reach a full 90 degrees, bend as low as you can comfortably. Your ability to stretch will increase over time as you continue to do this exercise.
Using an Exercise Band
Do these exercises with a stretch band that has hand grips. The band should offer a comfortable degree of resistance as you stretch it, but you should not have to strain.
With the band across your back in the shoulder blade area and your hands in the grips, stretch your right arm out straight. Stretch your left arm across your chest and toward your right hand. Repeat five to 10 times, then reverse hands and repeat five to 10 more times.
With the band across your back in the shoulder blade area and your hands in the grips, stretch both arms straight in front of you. Gently and slowly stretch your left arm forward a little more and repeat five to ten times. Then do the same with your right arm. (See Reference 4)
Using an Exercise Ball
An exercise ball is purposefully overinflated to create resistance. These exercises use the ball to strengthen the back and abdmoninal muscles by using them for balance. To find the right ball size, sit on the ball and make sure your feet can rest flat on the ground. Your thigh should be parallel to the floor.
Lying with your stomach over the ball and your hands flat on the floor, tighten your abdominal muscles while keeping your back straight.
Lie with your stomach over the ball and your hands flat on the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and walk forward on your hands until the ball is under your legs. Now, walk backwards until you return to your original position. Repeat several times.
Lie with your stomach over the ball and your hands flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominals and walk forward on your hands until the ball is under your legs. Raise one arm slowly and then lower it. Repeat with the other arm. Return to your original position and repeat several times.
Explore In Depth
- BigBackPain.com: Back Exercises
- Middle-BackPain: Exercises to Stop Back Pain Now
- Chang WD, Lin HY, Lai PT. Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27(3):619–622. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.619
- Brumitt J, Matheson JW, Meira EP. Core stabilization exercise prescription, part I: current concepts in assessment and intervention. Sports Health. 2013;5(6):504–509. doi:10.1177/1941738113502451
- Javadian Y, Akbari M, Talebi G, Taghipour-Darzi M, Janmohammadi N.Influence of core stability exercise on lumbar vertebral instability in patients presented with chronic low back pain: A randomized clinical trial. Caspian J Intern Med. 2015;6(2):98–102. PMID: 26221508
A retired federal senior executive currently working as a management consultant and communications expert, Mary Bauer has written and edited for senior U.S. government audiences, including the White House, since 1984. She holds a Master of Arts in French from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts in English, French and international relations from Aquinas College.