Exercises for Mid Back Tightness

Mid Back Strengthening Exercises


These two exercises are a favourite of mine for helping to release pain and tension in the mid back. The trunk rotation exercise is a simple and gentle movement that can be done anytime, anywhere. For the second exercise, tennis balls make a great prop for providing a bit of counter pressure to pain points. They can be used to relieve stiffness and tension all over the upper, lower and mid-back, depending on the movements you choose.

Also Known AsExercises and Stretches for Mid Back Tightness

Mid Back Exercises and Stretches




Mid-back, upper back, lower back, shoulder blades, depending on movement chosen.

Step by Step Instructions

Trunk Rotation Exercise to Mobilize Mid Back

  1. On all fours, maintain a neutral spine and pelvis.
  2. Move right hand behind right ear.
  3. In a controlled motion, slowly move right elbow to the inside of the left elbow. Your neck should move in a smooth, controlled motion as well.
  4. Open up as far as you can go, bringing right elbow back up to point towards the ceiling.
  5. Repeat, bringing right elbow back to the inside of the left elbow.
  6. Start with 5 on each side, working your way up to 15 reps for each side.

Tennis Ball Exercise for Achy Upper Back and Shoulder Blades

  1. Lay on your back
  2. Raise up slightly from the mat and place tennis ball close to the area where you’re experiencing tension
  3. Slowly lower/roll down so the tender area is on top of the tennis ball
  4. Aim for a 6/10 on the pain scale
  5. Hold until the 6/10 pain turns into more like a 2/10
  6. Raise up slightly and roll the ball out from under you

Dual Tennis Ball Exercise for Painful Upper Back and Shoulder Blades

  1. Lay two tennis balls close to the area where you’re experiencing tension 
  2. Laying back on your elbows, make sure each tennis ball lays on either side of your spine.
  3. With feet flat on the floor, adjust the tennis balls until they’re between each of your shoulder blades.
  4. Keeping a neutral neck, wiggle your body around slightly and lay back on the tennis balls. You should feel your chest opening as well, as your upper back relaxes into the stretch.
  5. Hold until the tension releases.
  6. Roll onto your side and sit up.

Tips/Common Mistakes

  • Never put a tennis ball right on the vertebrae of your spine. This can put too much pressure on the bone and cause injury
  • If your core is strong enough, lift your bum to move your body over the tennis ball(s) using a gently rolling motion.

There you have it! Two gentle stretches to help soothe mid-back tightness!