Do You Have Upper Back Pain?


Hi, it’s Shaythecoach wishing you a Happy Start of the Week!

What’s this on the left?
It’s a picture highlighting the Rhomboid Muscles.  

Before getting into why these muscles are important to upper back pain, look at the shape!  They reminds me of the geometry shape-the rhombus, a two dimensional figure whose adjacent sides are unequal in length and form angles other than 90 degrees Sometimes it’s just better to put a picture:


So, when thinking rhomboids…think rhombus.

The shape plays into their role!

Why are the rhomboids important?

  1. They help to hold the scapula (shoulder blade) in place, keeping the shoulder blades stable.
  2. They pull the shoulder blades together.
  3. They help to rotate the shoulder blades downward.

If you are experiencing pain in your upper back, just below your neck, and/or between your shoulder blades, your rhomboids might be the culprit!

Common ways people get tight rhomboids are slouching while typing (this includes computers, tablets, smart phones, and even playing video games! Another common way tight rhomboids are created is carrying a heavy backpack all day. As a hiker and backpacker, I was guilty of looking at the floor during long hikes so as not to trip over rocks. Little did I know what that was doing to my upper back and neck!  The solution: I stopped hiking and backpacking! Just kidding, I invested in a hiker’s pack with straps to support my back and a hiker’s pole for backpacking trips.

If you struggle with sitting up right while working at your desk, here are some recommendations to stretch your rhomboids:

1) Straight Arm Across Your Chest: Sit on a chair with your back straight in a comfortable position. The key to this stretch is that your back is straight. Reach your right arm across your chest with the left arm straight. Pull your elbow towards your chest with your left hand. The right palm should be facing the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds and then switch hands and stretch the other side.  This stretch is a favorite because you can also do it sitting cross legged on the floor or standing. Again, the key is to keep your spine straight!

straight arm across the body








2) Bent Arm Across Your Chest: Sit on a chair with your back straight in a comfortable position. Bend your right elbow.  Cross your left arm under your right so both arms are bent. Use your left arm to push the right arm closer to your body. Hold for 5-10 seconds and then switch sides.


Here are some exercises to strengthen your rhomboids:

1) Standing Back Fly: Stand with your right foot in front and hold each end of a theraband (an elastic band, most gyms will have it). Your hands are facing each other in front of your body. Pull your arms out to the sides while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 5 seconds and then in a slow and controlled way, return your arms back to where they started. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. If you are left handed, you can stand with your left foot in front.

2) Dumbbell Row: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Put a slight bend in your knees and make sure your hips are in a neutral position and that your spine is straight.  Hold a dumbbell in both hands. Face your hands towards each other, keeping your arms straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades together until your arms reach a 90 degree angle. Make sure your elbows stay close to your rib cage so that the rhomboids are being used. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

As always, I caution my readers that this blog is for educational purposes and does not replace sound medical advice or serve as a diagnostic tool. If your pain is unbearable and you are concerned about your upper back condition, please seek medical care as soon as possible!

Try the stretches and exercises and share about your experience!

Shay Vasudeva is the owner and founder of URBANMONK, a company that helps people become the best version of SELF. She is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer, Certified Nutritional Therapist, and Black Belt Karate Instructor. Call 480-253-9642 or e-mail [email protected] to schedule your free goal setting session now ! For more information about UrbanMonk you can go to: UrbanMonk is growing and if you would like to support its goal, you can go to:

This blog is intended for those who are interested in Nutrition, Fitness, Karate, Tai Chi, or simply becoming best version of SELF on a business professional level. Thank you!  We are not doctors/medical professionals and don’t diagnose or treat diseases. The contents of the blog are for educational purposes.