When thinking about back pain, many people immediately think about the lower back, and with good reason. Lower back pain is one of the most common types of back pain. But in the era of texting and nearly non-stop computer use, there is a rising trend in back pain: middle back pain. Thankfully yoga for middle back pain is a safe and easy way to help reduce pain and tension.

What causes middle back pain?

The thoracic spine consists of the vertebrae that connect the cervical spine to the lumbar spine. It has 12 vertebrae that reach from the bottom of the cervical spine in the neck to about five inches below the shoulder blades. This area holds a tremendous amount of tension and is often ignored in discussions about middle back pain, but pain and stiffness in this area can limit mobility and lead to other problems in the body in the long-term.

The following video gives a more in-depth overview of the science of back pain.

8 yoga poses for middle back pain

Here are eight yoga poses for middle back pain to keep your pain at bay and improve strength and flexibility all along the spine. These yoga poses may not be as dynamic as those seen in some magazines, but they were chosen because they’re the easiest and most gentle entry points for both beginning and experienced yogis alike.

The best yoga poses for middle back pain include:

  • Puppy pose
  • Shoulder flossing
  • Thread-the-needle
  • Cat-cow
  • Cobra
  • Sphinx
  • Staff
  • Locust

Always talk to your doctor before attempting these poses to ensure you don’t exacerbate your pain. Also, while these are great beginner’s poses, pull back if you feel any sharp or shooting pains. Yoga for middle back pain shouldn’t hurt, only help, your pain.

1. Puppy pose

Puppy pose is often used in yoga classes instead of downward facing dog to take the pressure off wrists and shoulders. It makes for a great yoga for middle back pain pose as it helps engage the muscles in the middle back and deeply integrate the entire shoulder girdle into the body.

Start on all fours with toes tucked. Lengthen tailbone back and slightly under to engage the lower belly in support of the lower back, then begin to walk the hands forward, keeping the hips raised above the knees. When you have reached the end of your stretch, exhale and release the chest towards the ground, keeping arms actively reaching out. Press the hands into the floor away from you as you continue to lengthen the tailbone to lengthen the spine. On each exhale, sink the chest a little deeper to the floor.

You can rest your forehead or chin on the floor, or use a yoga block if you have one to support your head. Elongate your neck by reaching out through the crown of your head. Breathe here for five to ten breaths, then come out of the pose by slowly walking your hands back to all fours.