Exercises And Yoga For Middle Back Pain


7 Min Read

Exercises and Yoga For Middle Back Pain

To keep your middle back muscles strong and flexible, begin with 10 sets of plank stretches. Follow up with 15 sets of shoulder brace where you sit on a chair, clasp your hands behind the chair back, and stretch them while pushing backward. If you prefer yoga, do the downward-facing dog pose 5 times. As your body forms an inverted v, with the hip as the apex and the palms and feet as the bases, your back is stretched well.

There’s no dearth of researches and studies on back pain. But of the three areas on our back—cervical (upper), thoracic (middle), and lumbar (lower) spine—pain in the middle part seems to be the least researched, with not much statistics available about incidences or risk factors. This could be because the pain in the middle back, spanning from the base of the neck to the bottom of the rib cage (lumbar spine), is considered less severe as the bones in this region do not move much, and there’s lesser chance of friction-related degeneration.

Why Does It Occur?

Middle back pain or thoracic spine pain (TSP) is primarily due to inflammation, infection, metabolic issues, or abnormal tissue growth in the thoracic spine. It can affect individuals of all ages. A Danish cross-survey among 806 school students noted that TSP was common in both children and adolescents, especially females.1  This has been attributed to changes in posture related to backpack weight and use, chair height at school, and other symptoms related to muscles, bones, joints, and tissues—together called musculoskeletal symptoms.2

In adults, thoracic back pain occurs because of musculoskeletal symptoms such as muscle strain or sprain, slipped disc, and vertebral bone fracture. The presence of bony projections, known as osteophytes, near the back of the spine are one of the strongest risk indicators of severe TSP.3 In rare cases, the cause could be cancer or infection or problems in the organs of the thoracic region such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, gall bladder, and liver.4

Exercises To Prevent Middle Back Pain

Increasing the amount of physical activity and consciously keeping the spine upright can help reduce the pain. Similarly, low-impact exercises such as yoga and Pilates can help stretch the spine. This alleviates the pain by avoiding compressing the discs. Sleeping on a firm mattress and avoiding too many pillows also help to an extent.

Here are some of the stretches5, exercises6, and yoga poses that help you manage middle back pain, without using any expensive equipment.


Modified Seat Side Straddle


Targets the extensor muscles and the erector spinae group of muscles in the middle back

  • Sit on the floor with both legs stretched out.
  • Now bend one leg such that the sole of its foot touches the inner thigh of the extended leg.
  • Keeping your back straight, bend forward from your hips toward the foot of your extended leg, touching its toes.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Next, slowly round your spine and try to bring your head down to your knee.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then come back to your original position.
  • Start with the other side.
  • Repeat this stretch for a maximum of 10 times.



Targets the middle and lower back

  • Lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor and your elbows right below the shoulder.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and glutes, or the hip muscles, and lift your hips and knees off the floor.
  • Your body will be supported by your forearms and the base of your toes.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and then return to the start position.
  • Relax and repeat 10 times.

Bird Dog

Bird Dog

Targets the back extensor muscles and the erector spinae

  • Begin with the tabletop position, i.e. keep a flat back while your hands and knees touch the floor.
  • Tighten the abdominal muscles and stretch the right arm out, keeping it at shoulder level.
  • Slowly extend your left leg straight out and hold this position for 15 seconds.
  • Come back to the tabletop position.
  • Follow the same steps with the right leg and the left arm.
  • Do this stretch 5 times each side.


Shoulder Brace

Shoulder Brace

Targets the shoulder blades and upper and middle back

  • Sit on a chair.
  • Take your hands behind the chair back and clasp them tightly.
  • Stretch your clasped hands and push backward.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Relax and repeat 15 times

Back Arch

Back Arch

Targets the middle and lower back

  • Lie face down on the floor.
  • Supporting your upper body with your hands, lift your shoulders off the floor, keeping the pelvis flat on the floor.
  • Arch your back, tilting the head backward.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Relax and repeat 10 times.

Seal Movement

Seal Movement

Targets the middle back

  • Lie face down on the floor with arms on your side.
  • Lift your upper body from the waist.
  • Twist your torso to the left, hold for 15 seconds, then return to normal.
  • Twist your torso to the right, hold for 15 seconds, then return to normal.
  • Repeat this 5 times on each side.
  • Lie on your back and relax before doing the next 3 sets.

Broom-Handle Stretch And Swing

Broom Handle Stretch And Swing

Targets the middle and lower back

  • Place a lightweight rod or stick (approximately 4 ft long) behind your neck, resting it on your shoulders and hold it.
  • Twist your body from one side to the other at 90 degrees.
  • Keep balancing the rod and continue to do this 20 times.
  • Relax and repeat for 3 more sets.

Knees-To-Elbows Back Arch

Targets the middle back

  • Start with the tabletop position.
  • Now lower yourself such that the forearms are touching the ground and the elbows are right below your shoulders.
  • Support yourself on your knees and elbows.
  • As you breathe in, lower your head and hunch your back.
  • As you breathe out, lift your head, lower your chest, making an arch.
  • Come to the starting position, relax and then repeat.


Downward-Facing Dog Or Adho Mukha Shvanasana

Downward Facing Dog

Targets the middle and lower back

  • Begin in the tabletop position, i.e. a flat back with hands and knees touching the floor.
  • Slowly stretch your hands forward and lift your hips up and knees from the floor.
  • Stretch your legs backward till you can no longer keep your balance.
  • Plant your palms and your feet firmly on the ground, keeping them shoulder width apart.
  • Your body forms an inverted V-shape at this point.
  • Keep the neck lengthened in a way that the ears touch the inner arms.
  • Hold this pose and take long, deep breaths.
  • Exhale, bend the knees, and come back to the original position.
  • Repeat this for 5 times.

Bridge Pose Or Setu Bandhasana

Bridge Pose

Targets the thoracic spine and back muscles

  • Lie on your back.
  • Fold your knees and keep your feet hip distance apart on the floor in a straight line.
  • Keeping your arms on your side and your head and shoulders fixed on the ground inhale and slowly lift your back so that the chest rises up to touch the chin.
  • Feel your buttocks firm up in this pose.
  • Keep breathing calmly and hold the posture for a minute.
  • Exhale and gently come to the first position.
  • Repeat this for 5 times.

All this complemented with a nutritious diet and sufficient water intake will improve your quality of life, and with time, you will notice a reduction in pain. However, if the pain is severe, you should consult a medical practitioner before taking up any form of exercise to avoid injury or further deterioration.

References   [ + ]

1. Wedderkopp N, Leboeuf-Yde C, Andersen LB, Froberg K, Hansen HS. Back pain reporting pattern in a Danish population-based sample of children and adolescents. Spine. 2001;26:1879–1883.
2.Briggs, Andrew M., Anne J. Smith, Leon M. Straker, and Peter Bragge. “Thoracic spine pain in the general population: prevalence, incidence and associated factors in children, adolescents and adults. A systematic review.” BMC Musculoskeletal disorders 10, no. 1 (2009): 77.
3. Niemeläinen, Riikka, Michele C. Battié, and Tapio Videman. “Risk indicators for severe upper or mid back pain in men.” Spine 36, no. 5 (2011): E326-E333.
4.Upper and Middle Back Pain. Health Information.
5.Spine Conditioning Program. American Academy Of Orthopedic Surgeons.
6. Exercises for your thoracic spine. North East Valley Division General Practice, Victoria, Australia.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.