Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Yoga for Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain can result from tension in one or more muscles and a considerable more force being exerted on one or more muscles then it can bear which can ultimately push the spine into uncomfortable positions.

Other reasons for upper back pain can be torn muscle, damaged bone or trapped nerve that can put improper force on the spine resulting in pain. Yoga can be beneficial in helping you deal with upper back pain as there are many yoga poses which strengthens and stretches the back muscles, and improves blood circulation to the spine and nerves.

Yoga for Upper Back Pain

How Can Yoga Help in Relieving Upper Back Pain?

  • Yoga helps in relieving tension in the upper back muscles by improving flexibility.
  • The resting state of the upper back muscles is increased with regular stretching which in return does not pose any extra force on the joints.
  • With Regular yoga practice, the tension and pain in the upper back is relieved with the regular stretching.
  • Yoga promotes proper sitting techniques and a good posture which relieves trapped nerves or torn muscles which could be causing upper back pain.
  • With regular yoga practice and proper breathing techniques the stress level is reduced and therefore helps in overall wellbeing of the body.

Yoga Poses to Get Rid of Upper Back Pain

Salabhasana or Locust Pose Yoga for Upper Back Pain

Salabhasana is a very good restorative yoga pose to rid of upper back and neck pain. It strengthens the upper back and neck in its raised position and help get rid of pain with regular practice.

Technique: Lie on your stomach on the floor or on the yoga mat. Keep your arms besides your body. With deep inhalation, raise your head, torso, arms and legs off the floor. With Exhalation, draw your shoulders back. Try to stay in this position for 30-40 seconds. Maintain your breath while being in this position. Come back in the original position with a deep exhale. Do not put pressure on the back while drawing the shoulders back.

Marjariasana and Bitilasana for Upper Back Pain

Marjariasana and Bitilasana moves the entire spine to bring flexibility and mobility from sacrum to top of the cervical spine and is one of the very good yogasanas to get rid of upper back pain.

Technique: Come on your knees and hands on the floor or on the yoga mat to practice Marjariasana or Bitilasana. Keep your palms directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Keep your hands straight, do not fold them. Your toes can rest on the ground backward while practicing these asanas. While inhaling, draw your navel towards the ground and arch your spine towards the sky and gaze upwards. This is called Marjariasana.

While exhaling, draw your navel towards your spine and bring your chin towards your chest while practicing it. Stay in this position for a few seconds. Get into Child pose to relax after practicing these Asanas.

Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose for Upper Back Pain

Bhujangasana strengthens the muscles along the thoracic spine and helps get rid of upper back and neck pain.

Technique: To do this yoga pose for upper back pain, lie on your stomach on the floor or on the yoga mat. Fold your arms and place your palms besides your shoulders and while inhaling raise your head and upper body in such a way that the weight of the body is being beard by your arms. Raise your head while your torso is raised. Look up and focus your gaze on a point upwards. Hold this position for a few seconds. Come down to the original position while exhaling.

Gomukhasana or Cow Faced Yoga Pose for Upper Back Pain:

Gomukhasana is a restorative pose which stretches the back muscles and regular practice of Gomukhasana can help get rid of Sciatica and upper back pain.

Technique: Sit with your legs outstretched in front of your torso on the floor or on the yoga mat. Fold your left knee in such a way that the heel of your foot touches the right hip. Fold the right leg in such a way that the right knee comes to rest directly over the left knee. While inhaling, raise your right arm up and alongside your ear. Exhale, bend your elbow and place your right hand between your shoulder blades, palm flat to your back. Take your left arm to your back with your palm facing upwards and try to get hold of your right hand with the left hand. Make sure while you are doing this, your back is straight and not bent. Stay in this pose for a few seconds while breathing normally. Release the pose and practice the pose from the other side.

Purvottanasana or Upward Plank Yoga Pose for Upper Back Pain:

Purvottanasana reduces the tension in neck, shoulders and upper back by stretching the body while it is raised. It is a very good restorative yogasana to get rid of upper back pain.

Technique: Sit in Dandasana on floor or on the yoga mat. Place your palms on the floor with the fingers facing inwards. The palms should be placed a few inches behind the hips. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Slowly and gently raise your body from the floor in such a way that your body is supported by your arms and heels on the floor. Straighten your legs so that there is a distance of almost one foot between your hips and feet. Raise your head and turn backwards such that you are looking behind on the other side of the body. Stay in this position for a few seconds. Exhale and come back to Dandasana.

Balasana or Child Pose:

Balasana is one of the relaxing asanas which soothes the mind, relieves anxiety, and stretches the back and thus relieving it from muscle tension and pain.

Technique: Sit in Vajrasana. Bring your arms to rest backward in such a way that both the arms are lying on either side of the thighs. Bend forward and bring your forehead to touch the floor.

Stay in this position for a few seconds.

Pranayamas for Upper Back Pain

Sometimes, back pain can occur because of stress, tension and depression. For such people practicing pranayama can prove very helpful as it soothes the nerves and relieves tension and anxiety. Pranayamas which can be practiced for upper back pain are:

Anulom Vilom: It is said that there is nothing that Anulom Vilom can't cure. While regulating the breathing pattern it helps in improving the blood flow to the body and increases oxygenation of the blood.

Technique: Sit in Padmasana. Close your right nostril with the thumb and inhale deeply from the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring finger and little finger of the same hand and exhale deeply from the right nostril. Now, inhale deeply from the right nostril and after inhalation closes the right nostril with the right thumb and exhales deeply from the left nostril. Repeat this for 7-8 times. You can practice Anulom Vilom for 5-7 minutes every day.

Sheetali: Sheetali has a calming effect on entire nervous system. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces muscular relaxation and is very effective in stress management. If you are stressed then a few minutes of Sheetali pranayama practice can calm and soothe you. This pranayama is very effective for relaxation of body and mind.

Technique: Sit in any of the meditative asanas i.e. - Sukhasana, Padmasana or Vajrasana. Roll your tongue and inhale through mouth while your tongue is rolled. You will feel that that air going inside your mouth is being cooled by the tongue. Exhale from the nostrils. You can practice 4 seconds of inhalation from mouth and 6 seconds exhalation from the nostrils initially and the ratio can be increased with practice.

Precautions to be Taken While Practicing Yogasanas for Upper Back Pain

  • If you are suffering from severe back pain and issues like Sciatica, Slip Disc and any other spinal injuries, practice yogasanas only after consulting physician and under the guidance of trained yoga teachers.
  • Do not over stretch your body while practicing yogasanas. Go as far and stretch as long as your body allows. Do not over exert yourself.
  • Keep moving your body and do not sit in one position for a longer period of time.
  • Sleep straight on your back if you want quick relief while you're practicing yoga for upper back pain.

7 Yoga Poses for Upper Back Pain

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: November 8, 2017

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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