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Do you experience middle-upper back pain or stiffness? this is for you.

Okay, we're back.

A couple weeks ago we looked into the important aspects of a neck discomfort movement program. Here, in the second instalment, we contemplate mid-upper back pain or stiffness. Let's go.

First of all, it's once again important to touch on some of the learnings regarding pain science that we've had over the past month. I won't trouble you too much with repeated content, but to recap:

Pain is not created in the body, but rather is a sensation created in the brain when the brain deduces, on the basis of all of the available information and stimuli at that moment, that the body is in danger and a change in behaviour is required.

The body tells the brain that it is in danger, not that it is in pain.

The latter is for the brain to decide.

So, pain is created in the brain - that's important point number one. Important point number two is that a movement program alone is not the most optimal way to approach a physical health complaint. This should be coupled with educational content, which explains to us the important role that our beliefs and mindset play in the development and perpetuation of the pain that we experience.

A best practice scenario for an intervention for a physical ailment would look something like the following:

1. A progressive movement program, that focuses not only on correcting the muscle imbalance, but on the movement of the body as a whole

along with

2. Concurrent education for this individual around pain, the influence of psychological and social factors, and the importance of exercise and keeping mobile in pain recovery

A successful implementation of these two aspects concurrently would not only improve one's physical health across the parameters of strength, mobility, etc., but it would elicit the additional benefit of increasing one's feeling of control over their pain. This allows would, in turn, allow them to better self-manage any current discomfort (such as middle-upper back pain) and any future physical ailments with a higher sense of confidence.

Knowledge is power. Movement is medicine.

But instead of just talking about it, how about we actually give it a go...

Movement Program

The main focuses of the program include:

  1. Increasing middle-upper back mobility

  2. Strengthening the upper back & torso so that it can utilise the new-found range of motion

1. Spider Rotation

1. Begin in a high plank position (top of a push up)

2. Stride one foot forward and position it on the outside of your hand on the same side

3. Lift your hand that is next to the foot and rotate your body inwards by threading that hand underneath you

4. Rotate your body outwards by reaching that hand towards the ceiling

5. Repeat 6 times, then on the opposite side

2. Toes-to-wall Squat

1. Stand facing the wall approximately one foot length (or less) back

2. Outstretch both arms and form the shape of the letter Y with both hands touching the wall

3. Squat down as low as possible while keeping your chest up and hands in contact with the wall

4. Hold for 2-3 seconds, then rise to standing

5. Repeat for 10 repetitions

3. Tabletop Thoracic Rotation

1. Start in a tabletop position on the mat (shoulders over hands, hips over knees)

2. Remove one hand from the mat and place it on the side of your head

3. Touch the elbow of your bent arm to the forearm of your planted arm, then rotate to the opposite direction and try to point your elbow to the ceiling

4. Repeat for 6 repetitions, then on the opposite side


As we mentioned last time - it's unfeasible for us to include all the necessary education into this blog post alone. There is a plethora of scientific research supporting the role of exercise in pain management and injury rehabilitation. Nobody is on the other side of that issue. But, for understanding pain itself, this short, 5 minute video below could be a great place to start.

Link - Persistent Pain Explained:

Video taken from Tame The Beast (


If you do experience middle-upper back pain or stiffness we do encourage you to implement the movement program into your daily routine.

Let's give it a go: twice per day (morning & afternoon) for 4 weeks

These exercises are a solid starting point, but they will soon need to be progressed. If you're tracking well and are ready to move on then get in contact with us.

If you suffer from physical discomfort, or are motivated to prevent future physical issues, then the PreActive app is the one for you. We work together with academics and clinical professionals to combine the power of evidence-based physical health content and technology to produce a wellness platform that has been shown to improve the health of its users.

Immediate, evidence-based content, whenever you need it most.

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