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Prosperity through Massage: Nourishing Wellness

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5 Effective Stretches for Upper Back and Shoulder Pain

The most common complaint that brings people into the studio is shoulder or upper back pain. Whether due long hours at a desk, poor posture, stress or running after a toddler, it’s usually at the top of the list of ailments when I ask a guest what they’d like to work on. 

These stretches help relieve tension, improve flexibility, and reduce discomfort in the upper back. Remember to hold each stretch for about 20-30 seconds and breathe deeply to enhance the stretch and relaxation.

1. Shoulder Rolls

How-to: Sit or stand comfortably, keeping your spine straight.

Action: Roll your shoulders in a circular motion, first forward for 10 repetitions and then backward for another 10 repetitions.

Benefits: This simple movement helps loosen up the muscles surrounding the shoulders, easing tension and enhancing mobility.

2. Upper Trapezius Stretch

How-to: While sitting or standing, gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder.

Action: Use your hand on the same side to gently apply light pressure on the opposite side of your head, increasing the stretch.

Benefits: Targets the upper trapezius muscles, releasing tension that commonly builds up from stress and poor posture.

3. Doorway Stretch

How-to: Stand in a doorway and place your hands on the door frame at shoulder level.

Action: Lean forward through the doorway, allowing your chest to open up and stretching the front of your shoulders.

Benefits: Stretches the chest and front shoulder muscles, counteracting the hunched position many of us adopt while working on computers.

4. Thread the Needle Stretch

How-to: Start on all fours in a tabletop position.

Action: Reach one arm under your body and across, sliding the shoulder and temple down toward the ground until you feel a stretch in the upper back.

Benefits: Targets the muscles between the shoulder blades, helping to release tension and improve flexibility.

5. Eagle Arms Stretch

How-to: Sit or stand tall, then extend your arms straight in front of you at shoulder height.

Action: Cross one arm over the other, then bend at the elbows, wrapping your arms until your palms touch.

Benefits: Stretches the upper back and shoulders, enhancing circulation and relieving tightness.


-Avoid bouncing while stretching, as it can cause injury.

-Listen to your body and never force a stretch beyond what feels comfortable.

-Incorporating these stretches into your daily routine can significantly reduce upper back and shoulder pain.

*If you're experiencing persistent discomfort or severe pain, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a licensed massage therapist for personalized guidance.

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