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 strengthening 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.
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.
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.
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.
Figure 3 – Darts
Physiotherapy Products for Upper Back Exercises & Rehabilitation
- Resistance Band (For Strengthening Exercises)
- Massage Balls (For Self Massage)
- Foam Rollers (For Self Massage and Pilates Exercises)
- Swiss Balls
- Exercise Mats
- Posture Supports
- Lower Back Braces
- Therapeutic Pillows
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 Upper Back Exercises
- View Upper Back Stretches
- View Core Exercises
- View Upper Body Massage Ball Exercises
- View Upper Body Foam Roller Exercises
- View Upper Body Resistance Band Exercises
- View Beginner Pilates Exercises
- View Basic Swiss Ball Exercises
Find a Physio
Find a physiotherapist who can assist with upper back exercises and rehabilitation.
‘PhysioAdvisor Exercises’ iPhone App
Download the ‘PhysioAdvisor Exercises’ iPhone App.
Become a PhysioAdvisor Member and gain full access to our complete database of physiotherapy exercises and injury rehabilitation information. For more details see Become a Member.
Return to the top of Upper Back Strengthening Exercises.