How to Relieve Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

Learning how to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy is crucial for many expectant mothers who experience discomfort as their bodies undergo significant changes. As the uterus expands and pregnancy weight increases, it can cause strain on the spinal column and pelvic joints, leading to both upper and lower back pain. Furthermore, incorrect posture may exacerbate these issues.

In this blog post, we will delve into understanding the causes of upper back pain during pregnancy and explore various methods that can help alleviate this discomfort. You’ll learn about gentle stretches specifically designed for pregnant women that target key areas such as shoulders pulled back, prenatal yoga poses to strengthen your core muscles while improving posture and balance.

We’ll also discuss heat or cold therapy options for immediate relief from upper back pain in addition to considering chiropractic care tailored for expecting mothers’ unique needs. By implementing these strategies throughout your pregnancy journey, you will be better equipped in managing any potential shoulder or upper back aches effectively.

Table of Contents:

1. Understand the Causes of Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it can also bring about various physical discomforts, including upper back pain. Understanding the causes of this pain will help you find effective ways to relieve it and enjoy your pregnancy more comfortably. Some common reasons for upper back pain during pregnancy include postural changes, weight gain, and hormonal fluctuations.

Postural Changes

As your baby grows inside you, your body’s center of gravity shifts forward. This change in balance often leads to postural adjustments, causing strain on your neck and shoulders as well as upper back muscles. Many expecting mothers experience tension and pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back due to changes in posture brought on by their shifting center of gravity.

Weight Gain

Gaining weight is a critical element of pregnancy, as it provides sustenance for both mother and baby. However, carrying extra pounds puts additional pressure on your spine and joints - especially if most of the weight gain occurs around the abdomen area - leading to increased stress on the muscles supporting your upper back.

Hormonal Fluctuations

During pregnancy, hormones such as relaxin are released into the bloodstream to loosen ligaments in preparation for childbirth. While this process is necessary for a smooth delivery experience, hormonal fluctuations can also cause instability in joints throughout the body - including those located within or near the spine - which may contribute to muscle strain or joint irritation resulting in upper back pain.

Now that you have an insight into the root of your upper back pain during pregnancy, let us look at some strategies to ease it. In the following sections, we will discuss gentle stretches, heat or cold therapy, and chiropractic care as potential solutions for relieving your upper back pain.

It is imperative to discern the source of upper back soreness during gestation in order to apply suitable remedies for comfort. Stretching can be a great way to alleviate this discomfort, so let’s explore some gentle stretches that may help relieve your upper back pain.

Key Takeaway: 

Pregnancy can cause upper back pain due to postural changes, weight gain, and hormonal fluctuations. To alleviate this discomfort, gentle stretches, heat or cold therapy, and chiropractic care are potential solutions. Understanding the causes of upper back pain during pregnancy is crucial for finding effective ways to relieve it and enjoy a more comfortable pregnancy journey.

2. Try Gentle Stretches to Relieve Upper Back Pain

Pregnancy can be a period of joy and bliss, yet it likewise accompanies its reasonable portion of uneasiness, including upper back pain. Fortunately, there are gentle stretches that you can try to help alleviate this discomfort and keep your body feeling great throughout your pregnancy journey. Incorporating these stretches into your daily routine is a simple way to ensure you and your baby remain comfortable throughout the pregnancy journey.

A. Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are an excellent way to relieve tension in the upper back area during pregnancy. This simple stretch helps release tight muscles around the shoulders and neck while improving posture.

  1. Stand or sit up straight with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Inhale as you lift your shoulders towards your ears.
  3. Exhale as you roll them backward in a circular motion, squeezing the shoulder blades together at the end of each rotation.
  4. Repeat this movement ten times before reversing direction for another ten repetitions.

B. Cat-Cow Pose

The cat-cow pose is a popular yoga stretch that works wonders for pregnant women experiencing upper back pain by gently stretching the spine and engaging core muscles. Cat-cow pose:

  1. Come onto all fours on a comfortable surface like a yoga mat or carpeted floor.
  2. Your hands should be directly under shoulders while knees should align beneath hips.
  3. Inhale deeply; arching lower back and lifting chest and head towards the ceiling, creating a gentle curve in your spine.
  4. Exhale; rounding upper back while tucking chin to chest and drawing navel inward.
  5. Repeat this sequence 5-10 times, moving fluidly between cat pose (arching) and cow pose (rounding).

C. Seated Twist

A seated twist can help release tension from the upper back muscles during pregnancy by gently rotating the spine.

  1. Sit on a cushion or folded blanket with legs crossed comfortably at ankles.
  2. Inhale as you lengthen your spine upwards, sitting tall.
  3. Place left hand on right knee while exhaling; placing right fingertips behind you for support.
  4. Gently twist torso to the right side without straining neck or shoulders; holding stretch for several breaths before releasing it slowly.

Please remember that every pregnant body is different. It’s essential to listen to your body when practicing these stretches. If any of them cause discomfort or pain, stop immediately and consult with a healthcare professional such as a chiropractor who specializes in prenatal care like Grand Health Chiropractic. They can provide personalized guidance on how best to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy safely.

Performing mild stretches can be a beneficial method to ease discomfort in the upper back during pregnancy, but take care not to strain yourself. Moving on, heat or cold therapy may also provide relief from upper back pain associated with pregnancy.

3. Use Heat or Cold Therapy for Upper Back Pain Relief

During pregnancy, your body goes through various changes that can lead to discomfort and pain in different areas, including the upper back. One effective way to alleviate this pain is by using heat or cold therapy. These therapies work by either increasing blood flow to the affected area (heat) or reducing inflammation (cold), providing relief from upper back pain.

A. How to Apply Heat Therapy

Heat therapy helps relax muscles and increase blood circulation, which can provide relief from muscle tension and spasms often experienced during pregnancy. To apply heat therapy:

  1. Use a heating pad: Place a heating pad on the painful area of your upper back for about 15-20 minutes at a time. Make sure not to place it directly on your skin; use a towel as a barrier.
  2. Take warm showers: A warm shower can help relieve tension in your muscles while also promoting relaxation throughout your entire body.
  3. Take soothing baths with Epsom salts: Soak in a warm bath mixed with Epsom salts (safe during pregnancy) for about 20 minutes to ease sore muscles and promote relaxation.

B. How to Apply Cold Therapy

Cold therapy works by numbing the affected area and reducing inflammation, which may be helpful if you’re experiencing sharp pains due to muscle strain or joint irritation caused by hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy. To apply cold therapy:

  1. Use the icing technique: Wrap a bag of ice or frozen peas in a towel and apply it to the painful area for about 15-20 minutes. Make sure not to place it directly on your skin.
  2. Use cold gel packs: These are convenient, reusable options that can be stored in the freezer and applied as needed. Again, make sure to use a barrier between the pack and your skin.

C. Alternating Heat and Cold Therapy

In some cases, alternating heat and cold therapy may provide even more relief from upper back pain during pregnancy. This method involves applying heat for about 15-20 minutes followed by cold therapy for another 15-20 minutes (with breaks in between). The idea is that heat helps relax muscles while cold reduces inflammation, providing an overall soothing effect on your upper back pain.

Before beginning any new treatments during pregnancy, including heat or cold therapy for upper back pain relief, always consult with your healthcare provider. They will help guide you through safe practices tailored specifically to your needs throughout this special time.

If you’re looking for additional ways to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy beyond heat or cold therapy alone, consider trying gentle stretches (such as prenatal yoga) or seeking chiropractic care from professionals like those at Grand Health Chiropractic who specialize in prenatal care. Incorrect posture, pregnancy weight, and the uterus expanding can give pregnancy back pain. Pregnant women may experience upper back pain, lower back pain, and shoulder pain as pregnancy progresses. Prenatal yoga can help strengthen back muscles and keep shoulders pulled back. Chiropractic care can help align the spinal column and pelvic joints, reducing back pain.

Heat or cold therapy can provide relief for upper back pain during pregnancy, but if it does not offer enough relief, then chiropractic care should be considered as an alternative option. Chiropractic care is a viable option for pregnant women who have not found relief through heat or cold therapy and are looking to address the root of their upper back pain.

Key Takeaway: 

To relieve upper back pain during pregnancy, heat or cold therapy can be used. Heat therapy relaxes muscles and increases blood circulation while cold therapy numbs the affected area and reduces inflammation. Alternating between both therapies may provide even more relief from upper back pain during pregnancy.

4. Consider Chiropractic Care for Upper Back Pain

One effective way to alleviate this pain is by seeking chiropractic care. This non-invasive treatment focuses on realigning the spine and improving posture, which can significantly reduce upper back pain during pregnancy.

The Benefits of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

  • Pain relief: A chiropractor can help address misalignments in your spine that may be causing you discomfort or pain. By adjusting these areas, they can provide immediate relief from upper back pain.
  • Better posture: As your belly grows during pregnancy, it’s common for your posture to change as well. Chiropractic care can help you maintain good posture and alignment to ensure a smoother delivery.
  • Safer delivery: Proper spinal alignment is essential for a smoother labor process since it allows more room for the baby to move through the birth canal. Regular chiropractic adjustments throughout pregnancy have been shown to decrease labor time and complications.

Finding a Qualified Prenatal Chiropractor

To ensure you receive safe and effective treatment during pregnancy, it’s crucial to find a qualified prenatal chiropractor who has experience working with pregnant women. You should look for someone certified in the Webster Technique - a specific adjustment method designed specifically for pregnant patients - or ask friends or family members if they have any recommendations based on their own experiences.

You could also consult online directories like the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to find a chiropractor near you who specializes in prenatal care.

What to Expect During Your Chiropractic Visit

Your first visit with a prenatal chiropractor will typically involve an assessment of your overall health, medical history, and any specific concerns related to your pregnancy. The chiropractor may perform various tests and evaluations - such as checking your posture, balance, or muscle strength - before proceeding with the treatment.

During the adjustment itself, you’ll likely be positioned on a specialized table designed for pregnant women that provides extra support for your belly. The chiropractor will then use gentle techniques tailored to your unique needs and comfort level. Openly express any discomfort you may feel during the process so that your chiropractor can modify their approach accordingly.

Chiropractic care is generally considered safe during pregnancy; however, it’s always best to consult with both your healthcare provider and potential chiropractors before starting any new treatments.

Key Takeaway: 

Chiropractic care can effectively relieve upper back pain during pregnancy by realigning the spine and improving posture. It also offers benefits such as pain relief, better posture, and safer delivery. To find a qualified prenatal chiropractor, look for someone certified in the Webster Technique or consult online directories like the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.

FAQs in Relation to How to Relieve Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

What helps with upper back pain while pregnant?

To help relieve upper back pain during pregnancy, try gentle stretches, heat or cold therapy, and maintaining proper posture. Regular exercise and prenatal yoga can also be beneficial. In some cases, chiropractic care may provide relief for upper back pain. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.

Why does my upper back hurt between my shoulder blades while pregnant?

Upper back pain between the shoulder blades during pregnancy is often caused by changes in posture due to the growing belly. This shift in weight distribution places increased strain on muscles and ligaments supporting the spine. Hormonal changes can also contribute to muscle imbalances and joint laxity that lead to discomfort.

How do you stretch your upper back when pregnant?

To stretch your upper back during pregnancy, try seated cat-cow stretches or thoracic extensions over a foam roller or rolled-up towel. Another option is a gentle doorway chest stretch which targets tight pectoral muscles that contribute to poor posture and upper-back discomfort. Always perform these stretches slowly and within your comfort range.

Why does my upper back and ribs hurt during pregnancy?

Pain in the ribs and upper-back area may occur due to the expanding uterus pressing against surrounding structures like the diaphragm and ribcage, causing inflammation of costochondral joints (where ribs connect with cartilage). Additionally, hormonal fluctuations leading up to childbirth increase joint laxity, making them more susceptible to injury from everyday activities.


Upper back pain during pregnancy can be a common discomfort for many expecting mothers. Still, there are multiple techniques to assuage this distress and make the pregnancy experience more bearable. By understanding the causes of upper back pain during pregnancy, trying gentle stretches, using heat or cold therapy, and considering chiropractic care, you can find relief from your discomfort.

It’s important to remember that every woman’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before trying any new treatments or therapies.

If you’re experiencing upper back pain during pregnancy and want relief without medication or surgery, consider visiting Grand Health Chiropractic. Our experienced team specializes in treating pregnant women and providing safe, effective solutions for their unique needs. Call us now to book an appointment and start finding relief from your upper back pain!