#10 How to Cure Your Own Upper Back Pain
Monica endures upper back aching most days at work, where's she's a floral designer. The pain's not always there, just at work, though bottling peaches recently became unbearable. Massage feels great, heat always helps and pain-reducing creams and lotions bring relief, but it's temporary relief, and not available when she's hard at work.
The fact that the pain comes and goes is a good sign. Although Monica should discuss her discomfort with her doctor, her pain likely has a mechanical rather than a medical cause. When she works leaning over, she hurts. When she's upright, the pain goes away. Cause and effect.
Monica, therefore, has two choices if she wants to avoid pain. She can quit work or she can increase her ability to work. The latter is obviously the better choice so what must she do in order to do her job without suffering?
The first step is to lengthen chest muscles. They're so used to her working with rounded shoulders they've actually shrunk a little. She needs to use the bathroom doorway to gently stretch her chest muscles for 30 seconds while standing correctly upright, one foot forward, one foot back, one or two times, morning and evening. How about before she brushes her teeth? She can spare one whole minute. More is better.
When she's hurting at home, ice helps more than heat, see Blog #5. But the key to her success will be isometrics, holding the chest firmly upright, aggressively but subtly squeezing the buttocks and torso in neutral, for three to five seconds at a time, done frequently, every day until the pain is gone. The more she lengthens muscles in the front of the chest and strengthens muscles of the upper back and shoulders, the sooner she will be capable of doing her job without hurting. It's a recipe for success: balance the musculoskeletal system and work without discomfort. Cause and effect. And it's even free!