Relief From Upper Back Pain When Breathing

Upper back pain when breathing can be alarming unless you know why it persists. World renowned physiotherapy expert Sarah Key, explains the causes and provides some incredibly simple solutions to try at home.

Stretching With The BackBlock Is The Best Remedy

Sarah's recommendation
Getting rid of a nasty stabbing pain when breathing usually involves decompressing, or pulling the thoracic spinal segments apart.

The best way to do this is using a BackBlock.

The opening out backwards may be slightly uncomfortable but the process is VERY effective. It pulls more fluid into the intervertebral discs, stretches tight intercostal muscles and relieves the crowding on the head of the problem rib. 

Use the Back Block For these Breathing Relief Exercises

  1. Rib-to-spine mobilisation techniques
  2. Upper back straightening techniques
  3. Upper back strengthening exercises

A Strained Rib Probably Causes Your Breathing Pain

Each rib moves like a bucket handle lifting up and down off the rim of the bucket as we breathe in and out. The synchronous movement of all the ribs inflates and deflates chest and brings about gaseous exchange in the lungs.

Each rib must be fully mobile and springy so that breathing can be as free as possible. 

Being tired, unfit, physically overwrought, or in some other way below par, can make it easier to 'rick' a rib and give you upper back pain when breathing. 

why you get Upper Back pain When breathing

intercostals of the rib cage

If you inadvertently twist or jar a rib, the intercostal muscles will develop an automatic protective clench to hold the rib still. This is known as muscle spasm. If the muscle stays switched on for too long it makes the problem rib more rigid, so that it feels a hard prominent ridge. You will feel the rib is 'caught' and if you take a deep breath you will get a sudden grab of pain. 

There are many ways you can strain a rib!

  • Strenuous pushing exertion through the arms
  • Repeated coughing as part of a chest infection
  • Raised muscle tone (muscle spasm) caused by a stiff thoracic vertebra
  • Poor posture making it difficult for the ribs to work properly

Solve Your Upper Back Problems With
Sarah's Take Home Strengthening Exercises

In the this take home video, Sarah Key explains and demonstrates

  • the workings of the thoracic spine, the chest and ribs.
  • the complex notching of the ribs into the sides of the vertebrae
  • how you can mobilise and strengthen your upper back yourself. 

Most upper back problems can be fixed this way! Download this video here.  

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Sketch of man holding lower back in pain with product relief information using exercise

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