How to Prevent Upper Back Pain

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Most upper back pain can be prevented, so if you want to avoid more pain in the future, take a few easy steps today.

Prevention is Better than Cure

  • Learn—and practice—good posture, whether you're sitting, standing, or moving.
  • Exercise regularly. Do cardio workouts (exercise that gets your heart rate elevated to an appropriate level) and strength training.
  • Attain and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stop smoking (if you smoke).
  • Lift properly.
  • Eat well—give your body the nutrients it needs to function well.
  • Take care of your body at work: Read the article Avoid Stressing Your Back to learn how.

Protecting your spine and preventing all kinds of back pain, such as upper back pain, is an everyday kind of activity. You can't just sometimes have good posture or only sometimes exercise and eat well. As you age, your spine ages, too, although your thoracic spine is less susceptible to those degenerative (age-related) changes. To keep your spine working as well as it can throughout the years, follow the tips above.

Upper back pain caused by osteoporosis and spinal fractures is also preventable. You need to keep your bones strong and healthy to avoid osteoporosis. By eating foods rich in calcium and other vital nutrients, you will be doing your body—and bones—good. There are many other things you can do to prevent osteoporosis; it's one of the most preventable diseases. Osteoporosis Prevention is full of more tips on how to have healthy bones.

Here's one final tip for preventing upper back pain: Do this simple exercise.

  • Tuck your chin down.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Link your arms behind you while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold for a count of five.
  • Repeat several times a day.

Even easy exercises like that—ones that you can do almost anywhere—will increase mobility in your neck and back. It'll help keep your muscles supple, too, and make it easier for you to stand and sit correctly.

Updated on: 02/09/16
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Back Pain Center: Upper, Mid Back, Low and Lower Back
Jason M. Highsmith, MD
This article was reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD.
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