Upper back exercises


4 exercises
to strengthen
your upper back

What causes tension or pain
in your upper back?

There are several factors that can increase your risk for upper back strain. In particular, an old injury could affect you. Then, poor posture sustained all day could also be involved. Finally, more serious problems, such as osteoarthritis, pressure on a nerve or a fractured vertebra could be involved.
If you have severe upper back pain, or if you have symptoms like numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, or trunk, then it is important to see a physical therapist. If you rather feel some tension at the end of your workday or when you are stressed out, then there are some strengthening exercises that might help.

What exercises can be done to reduce the tension in the upper back?

Here is a series of exercises that will help you improve the strength and endurance of your upper back muscles. It could also help you improve your posture, if it's part of your goals.
The weights used for these 4 exercises are the Altterre training bags.

1. Single-arm row

For this exercise, you will stand on a training bench. If you don't have one, you can use a chair, like in the photo. Here are some technical points if you want to perform this exercise:
  • Your spine should remain in a neutral position, that is, keep about the same curvature as when you are standing.
  • Your head should stay in line with your body, not being pushed back or forward.
  • It is sometimes advisable to pull the scapula (shoulder blades) towards the center of the spine and keep it fixed there. This is a good idea if your goal is strictly to improve your posture, under the guidance of your physiotherapist.
In most cases, you don't have to worry about keeping your shoulder retracted (pulled up) throughout the movement. On the other hand, it is important to engage your muscles throughout the movement to stabilize your shoulder and prevent it from falling too far down.
For a good video on the subject, click here. (in English)

2. Bent-over row

This exercise uses both arms and is a bit easier to perform technically than the one-arm tirade.
This exercise will allow you to really feel the muscle contraction of the muscles of the upper back. This is an ideal exercise if you've been having a stressful day and have a lot of tension built up.
Technical points to check:
  • You should maintain the natural curvature of your back.
  • Your elbows should come up alongside your body, not out to the sides.
  • At the top of the movement, you can contract your rhombids, as if you are trying to hold a pencil between your scapula (shoulder blades).
  • Keep your knees slightly bent throughout the exercise.

3. Single leg deadlift

This exercise will allow you to work your entire posterior chain. Your hamstrings, your buttocks, the stabilizing muscles of your trunk and your upper back will therefore be solicited.
You could start this exercise without weights, as it requires a certain level of stability.
Here are some things to check during your exercise:
  • Since your upper back will act as a stabilizer, make sure your muscles are still engaged. You need to keep good control over your scapula (shoulder blades);
  • Start with a small range of motion. You don't have to stretch to the limit, especially if you are just starting out;
  • Maintain the natural curvature of your back. If it does fade, lower your movement lower.

4. Plank on the arms

The plank on the arms will allow you to work your abdominals, your stabilizing muscles of the trunk and also of the shoulders. During this exercise, it is important to engage your abdominals, but also to maintain good control over your shoulders.

In summary, working the muscles in your upper back can help reduce the tension you feel. In addition, as part of a program, these exercises can help you improve your posture and reduce your risk of feeling pain in this area of ​​your body.

You would like to do these exercises ? Try it with one of our training bags.

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