Dr. Jeffrey I. Kennis,  D.C.
205 Commercial St.
Boston, MA 02109
NORTH END

( 617)720-2329


 

Archive:

 

Patient Direct Icon

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.




Pain in the upper and/or middle back can be quite limiting and interfere with daily activities. To help alleviate this pain, consider stretching and strengthening the muscles that support your thoracic spine (upper and mid back). Here are 5 common exercises to try.

See Early Treatments for Upper Back Pain

Press-up exercise

This press-up or back extension exercise targets your back extensor muscles, which are attached to the back of your spine.

Image of person doing press up exercise for sciatica pain relief
  1. Lie on the stomach with your hands under your shoulders.
  2. Raise your upper body onto your elbows while keeping both forearms and hips relaxed on the ground. Breathe out and allow your chest to sink toward the ground. You should feel a comfortable stretch in your mid back.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly return to the floor.
  4. Aim to complete 10 repetitions. Gradually build to hold the position for 30 seconds.

A more advanced Step 2 involves raising your upper body onto your hands (rather than forearms) while still keeping both hips relaxed on the ground. In yoga, this is called the cobra pose.

advertisement

Cat-cow pose

The cat-cow pose is a gentle stretch that can help ease the pain in your middle back.

Image of person doing the cat cow yoga pose for middle and upper back pain
  1. Get down on all fours with knees and hands on the floor. The back and neck should be in a neutral, straight position.
  2. Slowly tighten lower abdominals, rounding the back towards the ceiling and tucking your chin. You should feel a stretch along your spine.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Release and return to neutral position.
  5. Slowly lift your head, chest and tailbone toward the ceiling, letting your spine and stomach sink toward the ground. This should also produce a comfortable stretch in your spine.
  6. Hold for 5 seconds.
  7. Release and return to neutral position.

Alternate between the two poses.

Opposite arm/leg raise

This exercise, sometimes called the bird-dog pose in yoga, strengthens your abdominals and back muscles.

Image of person doing opposite arm leg raise exercise for upper and middle back pain
  1. Get on your hands and knees. Keep your spine straight, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees aligned directly under your hips.
  2. Slowly reach out with one arm while extending the leg on its opposite side. Keep both straight and level.
  3. Hold for a few deep breaths, then gently lower your arm and leg to starting position.
  4. Repeat this exercise with your other arm/leg.
  5. If you had a tissue box balanced on your lower back it should remain in place throughout the exercise.

Try for 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.

Corner stretch

Upper back pain is often due to poor posture, which may be exacerbated by tight chest muscles. The corner stretch is an easy and effective way to open up the chest muscles and encourage healthy posture.

Image of person doing the corner stretch exercise for upper and middle back pain
  1. Face the corner of a room.
  2. Position feet together, about 2 feet away from the corner.
  3. Place a forearm on each wall with the elbows slightly below shoulder height.
  4. Lean forward until a good stretch is felt across the chest and shoulders. Your lower back should remain neutral (as it is while standing).
  5. Hold the stretch 30 to 60 seconds.

If a corner is not available, another option is to perform this stretch in a doorway by placing the forearms on the door jambs (sides of the door frame). This stretch can be performed 3 to 5 times throughout the day.

advertisement

Prone cobra

The prone cobra is an advanced back extension exercise that targets your upper back muscles:

  1. Lie on the floor face down. You may place the forehead on a rolled-up hand towel for comfort.
  2. Place the arms at the side, palms down on the floor
  3. Pinch the shoulder blades together and lift the hands off the floor. Keep shoulders down and away from ears.
  4. Roll the elbows in, palms out and thumbs up.
  5. Gently lift the forehead about an inch off the towel keeping the eyes looking straight at the floor (do not tip the head back and look forward).
  6. Try to hold the position for 10 seconds.
  7. Aim to complete 10 repetitions.

To increase the intensity slightly, you can lift your legs off the ground, too.

Exercise should push your body (whether a feeling of stretch or fatigue) but not leave you feeling increased symptoms at rest. Stop immediately and consult with your health care provider if any of these exercises increase or cause pain. A physiatrist, physical therapist, or other qualified health professional can create an exercise plan specifically tailored to treat your symptoms and underlying condition.

Learn more:

Back Strengthening Exercises

Stretching for Back Pain Relief

You only have one spine, and you need it for a lifetime. Healthy spinal discs are one of the keys. Intervertebral discs act as cushions between spinal vertebrae, but "life" takes a toll. A lifetime of walking, standing and other activities, combined with the body's aging process itself, can deteriorate spinal discs over time, making them drier, thinner and more likely to crack.

 

It's called spinal disc degeneration, and it's no laughing matter. Among other problems, it can cause significant pain, not to mention limited range of motion and function. Periodic chiropractic adjustments are one of the ways to keep the spinal discs – and spine – healthy for a lifetime, reducing the risk of disc degeneration. Your chiropractor also may recommend supplements, particularly omega-3s, which new research suggests also may reduce the risk of degeneration.

spine - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkThis laboratory study, which appears in the research journal Medical Science Monitor, suggests daily omega-3 fatty acid supplementation [530 mg/kg/day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in a 2:1 ratio, administered in sucrose solution] "reduces systemic inflammation by lowering AA/EPA ratios in blood serum and has potential protective effects on the progression of spinal disc degeneration." AA, or arachidonic acid, is an omega-6 fatty acid – associated with the inflammatory process; as opposed to omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory. Thus, improving the AA/EPA ratio (essentially meaning less inflammatory omega-6s compared to anti-inflammatory omega-3s) may positively impact spinal disc degeneration by reducing inflammation.

Your chiropractor can tell you more about disc degeneration and how chiropractic adjustments, supplements such as omega-3s, and other wellness care can keep your spine healthy for a lifetime.

January 06, 2020
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

You only have one spine, and you need it for a lifetime. Healthy spinal discs are one of the keys. Intervertebral discs act as cushions between spinal vertebrae, but "life" takes a toll. A lifetime of walking, standing and other activities, combined with the body's aging process itself, can deteriorate spinal discs over time, making them drier, thinner and more likely to crack.

It's called spinal disc degeneration, and it's no laughing matter. Among other problems, it can cause significant pain, not to mention limited range of motion and function. Periodic chiropractic adjustments are one of the ways to keep the spinal discs – and spine – healthy for a lifetime, reducing the risk of disc degeneration. Your chiropractor also may recommend supplements, particularly omega-3s, which new research suggests also may reduce the risk of degeneration.

This laboratory study, which appears in the research journal Medical Science Monitor, suggests daily omega-3 fatty acid supplementation [530 mg/kg/day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in a 2:1 ratio, administered in sucrose solution] "reduces systemic inflammation by lowering AA/EPA ratios in blood serum and has potential protective effects on the progression of spinal disc degeneration." AA, or arachidonic acid, is an omega-6 fatty acid – associated with the inflammatory process; as opposed to omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory. Thus, improving the AA/EPA ratio (essentially meaning less inflammatory omega-6s compared to anti-inflammatory omega-3s) may positively impact spinal disc degeneration by reducing inflammation.

Your chiropractor can tell you more about disc degeneration and how chiropractic adjustments, supplements such as omega-3s, and other wellness care can keep your spine healthy for a lifetime.

Dysfunction in the sacroiliac joint, also called the SI joint, can sometimes cause lower back and/or leg pain. Leg pain from sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be particularly difficult to differentiate from radiating leg pain caused by a lumbar disc herniation (sciatica) as they can feel quite similar.

Sacroiliac joints

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction refers to pain in the sacroiliac joint when they move either too much or too little. Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Video

For decades, the sacroiliac joint was suspected as a common cause of low back and/or leg pain, although difficulty in accurate diagnostic testing left many in the medical profession skeptical. Today it is estimated that the sacroiliac joint is responsible for 15% to 30% of lower back pain cases.1

 

Anatomy of the Sacroiliac Joint

The sacroiliac joint connects the hip bones (iliac crests) to the sacrum, the triangular bone between the lumbar spine and the tailbone (coccyx). The primary function of the sacroiliac joints is to absorb shock between the upper body and the pelvis and legs.

See Sacroiliac Joint Anatomy

The sacroiliac joint typically has little motion. Small movements at the joint help with shock absorption and forward/backward bending. The joint is reinforced by strong ligaments surrounding it, some of which extend across the joint in the back of the pelvis. This network of soft tissues provides support, limits movement at the joint, and assists with absorbing pressure.

Other muscles that support sacroiliac joint function include the gluteus maximus and the piriformis muscle.

Sources of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The primary mechanisms of SI joint dysfunction include:

  • Too much movement (hypermobility or instability) in the sacroiliac joint can cause the pelvis to feel unstable and lead to pain. Pain from too much motion is typically felt in the lower back and/or hip, and may radiate into the groin area.
  • Too little movement (hypomobility or fixation) can cause muscle tension, pain, and may inhibit mobility. Pain is typically felt on one side of the low back or buttocks, and can radiate down the back of leg (similar to sciatica pain).
 

Inflammation of the sacroiliac joint (sacroiliitis) can also produce pelvic pain and stiffness. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction may cause inflammation, or inflammation may occur with normal function of the joint from an infection, rheumatoid condition, or other cause.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is more common in young and middle-aged women. Women who are pregnant or have recently given birth may be more susceptible to sacroiliac joint pain.2

Airplane travel can expose you to uncomfortable positions and prolonged periods of stationary sitting, causing neck pain. Try these 7 tips to avoid neck pain next time you fly.


Long airplane trips can be daunting for people with back or neck pain. Luckily there are several tips that can help reduce or avoid pain and discomfort while traveling. Read Pain-Free Travel Tips

1. Pack over-the-counter medication
Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (e.g., Aleve), can help reduce inflammation and lessen pain from a stiff, sore neck. Pack this medication in your carry-on luggage, making it easy to access if your neck starts to hurt during the flight. Or if you’re already dealing with chronic neck pain, consider taking the medication an hour before your flight so it gets in your system prior to takeoff.
See NSAIDs: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

These medications carry risks and possible side effects, so check with a doctor or pharmacist before use.

2. Use a travel neck pillow
The cramped space of an airplane can leave you susceptible to incorrect posture. Laying your head on the tray table or leaning against the window, for example, can lead to neck strain and muscle stiffness.

A travel-sized neck pillow can help keep your neck straight and upright during the flight, minimizing the painful effects of incorrect posture. One popular option is a scarf-like wrap that features a supportive brace inside the fabric. Wearing this pillow allows you to comfortably lean to one side without bending your neck too far.
See Pillow Types to Consider

3. Relax
Plan ahead for some enjoyable, relaxing activities that can help take your mind off the pain. Listen to soothing music or an interesting podcast on your smartphone. Bring a novel or magazine to read and stimulate your mind. Think about your vacation destination and all the fun activities you look forward to doing there.

4. Get up and walk around
Holding a sedentary position for several hours can lead to neck pain—and lower back pain, too. You may find some relief by walking up and down the aisle when the pilot turns off the seatbelt sign. Changing positions and keeping your body loose can help reduce the muscle tightness caused by sitting in an uncomfortable position.

5. Stretch it out
Stretching can help ease neck stiffness, loosening tight muscles and restoring the neck to a more natural range of motion. You can perform many simple, effective neck stretches while you sit in your seat. It is recommended you practice stretches you learned from a qualified health professional, such as a physical therapist.
See 4 Easy Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain Video

6. Try a self-massage tool
You may find neck pain relief by using a handheld self-massage device while on the airplane (if the device is battery operated, check with the airline ahead of time to see if it is allowed onto the flight). A tennis ball can also be used as a self-massage tool and fits easily in a purse or laptop bag.
See Trigger Point Exercises for Neck Pain

Some airports have a massage therapy business on site, where you can hire a massage therapist to help relax your neck before or after a long flight.

7. Apply heat and/or cold therapy
Heat therapy encourages blood flow, reducing stiffness and allowing the neck to heal. You can use a disposable heat wrap, for example, which you can put on the back of your neck before your flight. Some people prefer cold therapy for neck pain relief. Consider packing plastic bags, which you can ask a flight attendant to fill with ice so you can make an ice pack.
See How to Apply Heat Therapy

Try some or all of these tips the next time you travel on an airplane. Hopefully these ideas help prevent neck pain, so you can have a more enjoyable flight.

Learn more:





This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.