If your work or hobby involves you bending forwards over a workbench, a desk, a bar or any other project for long periods of time, you could be at risk of experiencing mid back pain. This part of the back between your neck and lower back is called the thoracic spine.
Gravity, in combination with a forward head (for example looking down, peering forwards at a screen), creates a force that pulls on the thoracic spine. Tipping our head and shoulders forward, even slightly, puts the muscles in an elongated and stretched position, and places a significant load on the joints and muscles of the mid back.
This is not a problem if you maintain that position for a short time, however issues occur if you maintain this position for longs periods. As a result, your posture suffers, and leads to stiffness, aching between your shoulder blades, and even backstabbing pain. Sometimes the pain can radiate upwards to the back of the neck and head.
There are many things you can do to help. These include changing position often, strengthening the muscles of the thoracic spine and improving your own general fitness.
Look at the positions that aggravate the pain and try to change that position often.
Keeping your head back in line with your body and your eyesight forward encourages your thoracic spine to stay upright rather than slump forwards. Make necessary changes for example:
- ensure your workstation is set up correctly with your computer screen at eye level; or
- raise the height of your workbench so you are not titling your head forward constantly; or
- adjusting a back support, and chair height.
Increase your daily exercise to improve your general fitness level. This can be as simple as increasing your step count such as taking a walk at lunchtime.
Look at trying to improve your posture. Try this exercise:
- Stand with your back against a wall ensuring your head and feet are touching the wall;
- Clasp your hands together and take your arms overhead to touch the wall above your head;
- Repeat x5.
Strengthen your upper back muscles with specific exercises. Try these exercises:
- In upright sitting or standing, lift your sternum upwards and squeeze your shoulder blades together, drawing your shoulder blades back and down;
- Repeat x10.
- Stand with feet hips width apart, and elbows at your side and bent to 90 degrees holding weights in your hands;
- Keeping a good upright posture squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 5 seconds;
- Repeat x10.
Hope this helps, Deb.