Right in the Middle: Middle Back Stretches

Back pain, while common, can feel like the end of the world and leave you wondering how to get rid of it or how to ease it for next time.

There are all types of stretches for your shoulders and lower back but what about those middle back pains and aches? Is there any way to touch that troublesome middle back pain?

Luckily, there are plenty of stretches for the middle back as well!

You’ll be feeling better and keeping that pain and ache at bay with ease. Don’t rely on stretches that only target your lower back and hope that it reaches your middle back, focus directly on the area and keep things limber.

Causes of Pain and Tightness in the Middle Back

There are so many different ways you can tweak your back whether it’s the upper, middle, or lower back. Some specific causes affect the middle back more than other areas and it can be a tricky place to loosen up and relieve pain.

The entire middle back involves the spine, spinal cord, nerves, discs, muscles, ligaments, and tendons within the area. This area can often become painful or tight due to sports injuries, poor posture, arthritis, or car accidents.

Most people won’t experience any middle back pain because the area including the thoracic spine doesn’t move as much as the lower back and neck. This can be a boon since it won’t be as likely to be injured but once injured it can be harder to get loosened up and pain-free again.

Often middle back pain is either dull and annoying or sharp that can then radiate and spread to other areas of your body.

On the contrary, other types of pain can then move to your middle back and settle there as well causing annoyance and disturbance to your everyday life.

For the most part, this remains a simple annoyance that keeps you from living life to the fullest. This back pain can become more severe though.

If it’s the result of a pinched nerve you may lose control of your bladder or deal with fatigue or sleep issues if it’s caused by fibromyalgia.

Pain and tightness that’s simply caused by overuse or other less severe issues can often be resolved by some simple stretches that will have you feeling right as rain in no time!

Doing these with the proper form and at the appropriate time will help you feel better and possibly keep you from reinjuring the area.

Middle Back Stretches

Several common stretches will work your middle back in a more targeted way than other stretches you may be accustomed to.

Keep in mind when doing these stretches that form is everything. Doing a stretch or workout routine incorrectly can put you at risk of even greater injury.

Cobra Pose

While it may sound like a great move from a karate movie, this simple stretch will help you relieve tightness and pain in your middle back in no time!

This was originally designated as a yoga move but you can do it as a stand-alone stretch to work your middle back.

Start by laying on your belly with your feet about a hip-distance apart and your hands next to your ribs, palms down. Push and extend your big toes straight back and push down with all ten toes to engage your quads.

Push your inner thighs to the ceiling while engaging your outer ankles to your midline. Press down lightly with your hands and raise your head and chest off the ground while at the same time rolling your shoulders back and down.

Focus on keeping your neck long and lifting your sternum rather than your chin during the stretch. Continue focusing on pulling your entire chest forward and coiling your thoracic spine instead of pushing into your lower back.

This will keep your middle back engaged rather than strain your lower back.

Hold this stretch for 5-10 breaths then release the move and lay back down on the ground or mat.

Seated Twist

This is a very gentle twist that will work your middle back while also stretching out your hips, chest shoulders, and upper and lower back. You can easily work this into your daily routine and keep yourself limber throughout the day.

Start by sitting cross-legged with one leg folded in front of the other and keep your back straight.

Move your left hand up to your right knee and put your right fingertips behind you on the floor or mat. Sit up tall, inhale deeply, lengthen your spine then exhale, twisting from the bottom of your spine to the right.

Hold this stretch for 3-5 breaths on each side. You’ll inhale before pushing against your leg to lengthen your spine and exhale to deepen the twist throughout.

Since this is a gentle stretch,  you can do it with pretty much any level of health.

You should avoid doing this move if you’ve got a foot, ankle, knee, or lower back injuries though.

Cat-Cow Pose

You’ll have to dig down deep and engage your inner animal for this stretch! The Cat-Cow pose gives you plenty of focus on your middle back and helps to loosen it greatly in a short amount of time.

Start on the ground on your hands and knees in the table pose with a completely neutral spine. You’ll then inhale and move your body into the cow pose.

During this pose make sure you lift your head, relax your shoulders and look straight ahead.

When you exhale from this move you’ll go into the cat pose. Round your spine outward and tuck your tailbone in while drawing your pubic bone forward.

Let your head release toward the floor but don’t force your chin to your chest and make sure you keep your head and body relaxed during both sides of the move.

Bridge Pose

If you’ve ever spent time around gymnasts or budding tumblers, you’ll have seen them do this pose before transitioning on to other things.

This one focuses on your back and abs and keeping both sets of muscles limber throughout the move.

This is also a move that’s popular in yoga and you’ll be able to do it in just a few simple steps. Start by laying down supine on the floor then bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor with your feet as close to your butt as possible.

Breathe out and push your inner feet and arms into the floor.

You’ll then push up with your tailbone and engage the muscles to push and pull toward the pubic bone while engaging the buttocks lifting them off the floor. You’ll want to keep your thighs and inner feet parallel.

Keep your knees over your heels and push them forward away from your hips as you lift your butt until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Lift your chin up and away from your sternum and keep your shoulder blades solid against your back.

You’ll hold this pose for 30-60 seconds then release it when you exhale. Lower yourself slowly to the floor and return to your original position.

Passive Backbend

There’s a good reason this is called a passive backbend!

There’s not much energy required to do this stretch and move so you’ll be able to finish it at the end of the day and find a bit of relief before continuing with your routine.

Start by taking a blanket and rolling it tightly into a nice roll. You’ll then do a second blanket, folding it first, and putting it on top of the rolled blanket.

The final structure should look a bit like a cross and you’ll then put a pillow or block at one end for your head.

Lay down on the blankets with your head on the pillow and the rolled blanket should be across the spine while the folded blanket should lie along the spine from head to tailbone.

You’ll put your arms above your head and then stretch out the entire front of your body by reaching up. If you’re not able to rest your arms on the floor flat, put some other blankets or pillows along with them so they can relax and not be stressed.

Relax into this pose and let your chest come open. Your breast bone should reach and lift toward the ceiling.

You’ll want to keep this pose only as long as you’re comfortable but the goal is to work up to about three minutes of breathing easily during the pose.

There are lots of great reasons to do this pose but it allows you to relax and healthily stretch your spine at the end of the day. This time of deep breathing is also an excellent way to refocus your inner energy and renew your mind for the day ahead.


Stretching your middle back can be a tricky area to take care of when you need to focus on the pain and tightness in your spine.

Few stretches truly target the area and you need some time to focus on the way the move should be performed.

Through just a few simple stretches you can banish pain and tightness in your middle back in no time. These moves are easy to do each day and you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of a healthy routine of stretches and poses.

Incorporate these into your daily routine as part of your time to wake up and be refreshed or wind down and get some good sleep.

Make sure if your pain is persistent and sharp that you seek medical help and intervention as soon as possible.

Your doctor may be able to recommend more moves that will help loosen up and relieve the pain in your middle back as well so don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek great advice to help you live your best life!

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Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost

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