How To Relieve Upper Back Tension

One of the most common questions I get asked these days is, “I have a desk job and would like to know what I can do keep from my back from feeling sore?”

Sitting at our desks can take up most of the working day for a lot of people, and if we aren’t sitting at our desks we are more than likely driving in the car or sitting on the couch. Needless to say, we tend to do more sitting than moving these days, so it makes sense that good posture while sitting is important so we don’t get back pain.

In a perfect world, we would only sit for an hour at a time before we get up and move around. This may have been the case five years ago, but these days with almost everything being connected by some form of wireless device, you really don’t need to get up for much at all. There is however a few things we can do each day at work and in our workouts at the gym that can help relieve back pain and help keep your posture correct.

Below are my top 3 posture improving tips.

  • Get up, move and stretch! Make a point of getting up out of your seat to take a walk for just 2 minutes every hour. Do a lap of the corridor or take a walk up the stairs to the next floor and back again. Standing up and moving will not only be good for your fitness level, it will also release and pressure on the lower back and get the blood circulating through your body again. Stretching your chest will help to relieve some tension from the upper back too.
  • Strengthen your upper back. Next time you are training your back at the gym, add a three second pause to your seated row. Adding the pause will break the momentum of the movement and help to switch on more muscle fibers and stabilizers. Try the rhythm 1/3/1/0 and emphasize squeezing the shoulder blades together and lifting your sternum up on the seated row. It should feel like an exaggerated upright posture.
  • Sit with your feet behind you. We were always taught in school to sit up straight with our feet out in front of us and our knees at a 90° angle, however, this position can actually encourage our upper body to lean forward. This can cause our upper back and shoulders to round forward. Try sitting in a slight straddle position with your knees to the side of the chair and your feet resting behind you rather than out in front. This will encourage your pelvis to stay in the correct position with a neutral spine. The use of a saddle chair can really help if you have a lot of lower back issues, as it will keep your pelvis and lumbar spine in the correct position. The other advantage is it will also encourage your adductors (the muscles on the inside of your legs) to activate and stabilize.

The best advice I can give to is to move as much as possible… The way mother nature intended us to be. Keeping these tips in mind and incorporating them into your day will make a big difference to the tension you hold in your upper back and shoulders while sitting at your desk.


Mark is one of today’s leaders in health and wellness, with more than 15 years’ experience from across the globe. As a celebrity trainer with a continued national and international presence, Mark promotes his well-balanced, holistic approach to fitness and lifestyle through media platforms worldwide.

Mark has created his own online health, fitness and lifestyle brand Get Fit Fast The Complete Workout System with workouts, meal plans and workout schedules available for download at Mark is also a resident trainer on USA digital workout platform Fit Fusion, USA based iPhone application Go Flaunt It, and his home workout DVDs range is distributed through the USA by Watch It Now Entertainment at

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Mark Moon 30/07/2014

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