Back Pain

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Upper Back Pain Stretches & Exercises

Here is another edition to my upper back pain stretching and strengthening exercises. I have a video for Ys, Ts, Is, and Ws on a swiss ball, but if you don't have a swiss ball, these will hopefully help.

The first stretch is for your thoracic area. Sitting in a chair that has a medium back height, put your hands behind your head, and lean back over the backrest of the chair. Relax if you can and hold it for 30 seconds; repeat 3 times.

Next, you want to stretch your pectoralis muscles. If you have a foam roll, this will work best for the stretch. Lie down on the foam roll where it is directly on your spine and your head is supported. Now rest your elbows on the floor out to the side. If that is not enough stretch, you can straighten your arms out and rest them on the floor. If that is still not enough stretch, place your hands behind your head, and press your elbows downward. Hold for 30 seconds and do them 3 times.  

Now roll onto your stomach. Roll up a towel and place it under your forehead for comfort. Now put your arms straight out to the sides like you are making a T with your body. Gently raise your arms towards the ceiling, and try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Your arms don't have to go high, but they do need to be controlled. Hold them for about 2-3 seconds and do about 10-15.

Roll back onto your back for "snow angels." This exercise was shown to me from my PT friend Phil who helped me rehab from my shoulder surgery. Put your arms flat on the ground into a slight stop sign position or like you are getting ready to make a snow angel. You can bend your knees your put your legs out straight, but bending the knees will help support your back. Now slowly slide your arms upwards, and try to keep your elbow and arms flat on the ground. Once they start coming up, then slide them back down. You only need to do about 10 of these with 2 sets.

The next stretch is going to be in long sitting where your legs are straight out in front of you. Clasp your hands together directly in front of you, and punch forward while your are curling your back forward and bringing your chin to your chest. You want to have a curl in your back. Hold this for 30 seconds and do 3 times.

The last exercise is "bird dogs." This is done on all fours or in quadruped.  Try to keep your back straight like a tabletop, and try to keep your neck in a neutral position so you don't strain anything. Now lift one arm up and bring it straight forward. At the same time, lift the opposite leg straight out. Alternate your arms and legs, doing 5-10 on each side.

Lat Stretches & Exercises (Latissimus dorsi)

Here are some simple Lat stretches (Latissimus Dorsi) for rehabilitation or general soreness.

The first stretch will be a prayer stretch on the ground. The best thing to do is get down on your knees, and reach forward with your arms on the ground as far as you can. Then sit back onto your feet.  If you need a little more of a stretch, then take the arm on the side you want to stretch more and place it over on the opposite hand. Push out and over for a bigger stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Next, stand up next to something firm and stable on a wall like a bar. Grab onto the bar and lean backwards arching your back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times leaning back further each time.

Finally, stand straight up; take the arm of the side you want to stretch and bring it straight over your head. Then lean to the side and push your arm up and over like you are pointing to the opposite side of the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on each side 3 times.  


Shoulder and Thoracic Back Strengthening

These thoracic back exercises and stretches help strengthen your rhomboid muscles, trapezius muscles, and help to stabilize the scapula. We call them the Is, Ys, Ts, and Ws.

You can do them lying down, but it helps to use a swiss ball so you don't arch your back. It also helps you work your core as well. Get on all fours (quadruped) over the swiss ball. You can keep your knees down on the ground, but eventually if you lift your knees and stay on your toes, it will help engage your core muscles.

Lift up your arms straight out in front of you with your thumbs up in an I position with your thumbs up. Lift them 10 times. Then go into a Y position and repeat. Next is the T position, and finally is the W position. You don't need much weight to get a good workout with these!


Prevent Back Pain with Core Exercises, Prone

Core exercises are very important to make the back stronger. Using a swiss ball is a great way to strengthen the core, but not everyone has access to a swiss ball. Some people are also slightly nervous to use one! Here are some great core exercises for your back without having to use any equipment!

Lie down on the ground in prone or on your stomach. Try not to lift up your head so you don't strain your neck. Put your arms straight out in front of you on the ground. Slowly lift one arm and bring it back down. Repeat with the other arm. Then lift one leg and bring it back down, alternating sides. If that is easy, then lift one arm and the opposite leg. Alternate back and forth like you are swimming. If that is still easy, then lift both arms and both legs at the same time, like Superman...or woman. Try to hold it for 3 seconds, doing 10 of each of these.



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