Do you experience upper back pain after exercise? Are you worried about it? Pain in the upper back is usually t due to poor posture, muscle overuse, or any injury. In this article I have tried to describe everything related to upper back pain after exercise keep reading . It’s treatment includes some remedies, like rest , or in some cases possibly seeing a physical therapist.


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What is upper back area?

Upper back is the area which lies between the base of the neck to the bottom of  ribcage. 12 bones make up for the upper back, which in medical terms is called as thoracic spine. The first bone of the upper back starts from base of the neck, and the last one that is 12th bone ends just below the ribcage.

Upper back pain can occur anywhere between these bones 12 bones .Mostly upper back pain is defined as a burning or pulling sensation in one place, which can be the location of the strain or sometimes injury.


What are the causes of upper back pain after exercise?

No doubt upper back pain is less common than lower back pain or neck pain, but people having it can experience bad times due to it. In medical terms it’s called upper back pain or thoracic spine pain or TSP.

Common causes include:


Muscle overuse:

Overusing back muscles is one of the most  common causes  of upper back pain. This usually happens due to repeating the same motions over time. This can be a caused due to:

The classic example of how this can take place  is a pitcher in baseball game, where a similar motion is done every time they pitch, which can often take a toll on the shoulder of the players .Other repetitive actions may cause similar pain in same way.

People who have to make the same motion all day, or lift things above their head through all the day can start to experience muscle irritation, maybe  tightness, or strain due to muscle overuse .

This could turn into chronic pain in the mean time if signs are ignored. Treatment for this type of pain which is due to muscle overuse begins with resting the area at first, as well as by using heat or ice packs to promote blood circulation to the affected muscle tissue. Taking breaks between the work or exercise can help in preventing this condition.


Herniated disc:

Herniated discs are usually  common in the lower back however  sometimes  can happen in the upper back too as well leading to upper back pain and what is iportant is can happen during heavy exercise.

Discs are the soft, rubber type cushions placed between each vertebra to protect them and make the movement easy . Herniated discs take place when a piece of this cushion slides through and then puts pressure on the spine leading to upper back pain.

Even a small amount of pressure on the spine can result in significant pain in the middle of the back, and can lead to  other symptoms, like numbness or weakness in the arms or legs. Usually people do not need any surgery for herniated discs and recover with rest or by taking simple  anti-inflammatory medications.

If this disc is caused by heavyweight exercise one must take few day rest and restrain from doing exercise.


Muscle deconditioning and poor posture by doing exercise:

Using the muscles not in correct way or doing exercise in bad manner can cause back pain. People can condition their muscles over time to be more strong and more enduring via exercises and weight training however the reverse is also true.

Humans have a tendency to decondition their muscles over time by not using them in correct manner. Some muscles, including back muscles, deconditioning muscles is as easy as sitting at a desk with incorrect posture for too long period of time, sometimes person is not even aware of making such mistakes.

When a person slouches, pressure from the gravity and also from the body  pushes on the spine, neck, discs, and ligaments and this pressure over time, can lead to upper back pain and other complications. However it is possible to condition the muscles in a good way that is to be stronger and more durable in maximum cases.

Exercise in general improves strength in the back, so it’s better to do exercise in a correct manner , conditioning the muscles requires a lot of patience and time. Not to mention if anyone is with chronic upper back pain after doing exercise should visit a doctor.


Traumatic injury:

An  injury may also lead to upper back pain. This may be the result of situations that include following:

The injury can be obvious, and pain may appear just after the incident. At some other times, the pain may not develop until few movements and appear later or even the next day. Traumatic injuries can be very severe, and issues from such injuries like , fractured vertebrae, put a person at risk for lasting complications, which includes chronic pain, nerve damage, and in some cases even paralysis.

A doctor must look for all potential back injuries as it is important that they heal properly so to avoid long-term pain. Sometimes in few cases doctor may refer the person to a certified physiologist or maybe physical therapist to help muscle injuries to heal properly. Surgery may be needed in severe injuries.



The source of back pain in general can be sometimes not the muscles, but a problem in the bones and joints, same way goes for upper back pain if by exercise it gets worse there can be a underlying condition present which can worsen it. The cartilage who’s main purpose is to cushion and protect the bones can wear down with time as a person ages or sometimes in rare cases can happen at early age as well, the term used to describe this is osteoarthritis. Most common type of arthritis among older adults is this.

Other conditions that can affect the spine or muscles and lead to upper back pain. These include followng:


How can we prevent upper back pain after exercise?

In few cases it may not be possible to prevent all causes of upper back pain, however there are some  steps people can take that can avoid some of the more common causes. These include following:


When to see a doctor for upper back pain after exercise?

If the upper back pain after exercise is severe, lasts several days or weeks, and keeps the person away from participating in normal, daily activities, see a doctor for sure. You should seek medical care sooner if you have any of the following:

Also, always be more cautious about the  risk factors for cancer, infection, or fractures that may affect the spine and lead to back pain.



Most cases of upper back pain appear because of lifestyle issues like heavy exercises , weak or overused muscles from repetitive activities. In such cases, lifestyle changes, like  regular exercise with proper manner and with little stretching at the start, may help relieve pain. In cases of injuries, trauma or chronic back pain, people must see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Anyone who is not sure where to begin should ask their doctor about their symptoms, type of pain and treatment options.

They may recommend few lifestyle changes or sometimes pain medications or suggest to go to a physical therapist. Treatment for every condition depends on its own cause.