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McKenzie Treat Your Own Neck Book

Upper Back Strengthening Exercises

Exercises > Strengthening (Joints) > Upper Back Strengthening Exercises

 

The following upper back strengthening exercises are designed to improve the strength of the muscles of the mid and upper back. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally, they should only be performed provided they do not cause or increase pain.

Begin with the basic upper back strengthening exercises. Once these are too easy, add the intermediate upper back exercises. As your strength improves, the advanced upper back exercises can then be added to the intermediate program.


Upper Back Strengthening Basic Exercises

To begin with, the following basic upper back strengthening exercises should be performed approximately 3 times daily. As your upper back strength improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, frequency or duration of the exercises provided they do not cause or increase pain.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze 

Begin this exercise standing or sitting with your back straight. Your chin should be tucked in slightly and your shoulders should be back slightly. Slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together as hard and far as possible provided it is pain free (figure 1). Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.

Upper Back Exercises - Shoulder Blade Squeezes

Figure 1 Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Opposite Arm & Leg Raises 

Begin this exercise lying on your stomach with your arms above your head as demonstrated. Keeping your knee and elbow straight, slowly lift your opposite arm and leg tightening your back and bottom muscles (figure 2). Hold for 2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat this process with the other arm and leg. Perform 10 times on each side provided the exercise is pain free.

Upper Back Exercises - Opposite Arm Leg Raises

Figure 2 Opposite Arm & Leg Raises (right arm, left leg)


Upper Back Strengthening Intermediate Exercises

The following intermediate upper back strengthening exercises should generally be performed 1 - 3 times per week provided they do not cause or increase pain. Ideally they should not be performed on consecutive days, to allow muscle recovery. As your upper back strength improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, number of sets or duration of the exercises provided they do not cause or increase pain.

Darts 

Begin this exercise lying on your stomach with your arms by your side. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and slowly lift your arms and chest off the ground, keeping your neck straight (figure 3). Hold for 2 seconds at the top of the movement then slowly return to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided it is pain free. This exercise may be performed with palms facing up or down.

Upper Back Exercises - Darts

Figure 3 Darts

Arms Above Head in Lying 

Begin this exercise lying on your stomach with your shoulders blades squeezed together and arms by your side in the position demonstrated (figure 4). Slowly move your arms above your head, keeping your arms above the ground at all times and then return to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided it is pain free.

Upper Back Exercises - Arms Above Head in Lying

Figure 4 Arms Above Head in Lying

Resistance Band Pull Backs  

Begin this exercise in standing or kneeling with your back straight and holding a resistance band as demonstrated (figure 5). Slowly pull your arms backwards, squeezing your shoulder blades together as demonstrated. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free.

Upper Back Exercises - Resistance Band Pull Backs

Figure 5 Resistance Band Pull Backs 

Resistance Band Pull Downs 

Begin this exercise in standing or kneeling with your back straight and holding a resistance band as demonstrated (figure 6). Keeping your back and elbows straight, slowly pull the resistance band to your hips as demonstrated. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided it is pain free.

Upper Back Exercises - Resistance Band  Pulldowns

Figure 6 Resistance Band Pull Downs


More Intermediate Exercises

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Upper Back Strengthening Advanced Exercises

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Physiotherapy Products for Upper Back Exercises & Rehabilitation

 

Physiotherapy Products for Upper Back Exercises & Rehabilitation

 

To purchase physiotherapy products to assist with upper back exercises or rehabilitation, click on one of the above links or visit the PhysioAdvisor Shop.


Other Exercises

 

 Other Exercises

 


Find a Physio to Assist with Upper Back Strengthening Exercises

 

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Find a physiotherapist who can assist with upper back exercises and rehabilitation.


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