Perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions in each position each day, or when symptoms come on. Continue this exercise several times a week after symptoms resolve to maintain strength in the upper back.


Middle back, neck, and upper limb dysfunction are often associated with weak muscles in the upper back. Strengthening these muscles can help to improve symptoms and function in these areas.


Lie facedown on a mat with the arms spread at ninety degrees from the body in a ‘T’ position. The elbows should be bent just enough so that they are not locked, and the palms of the hands should be facing the ground. The head should be off the ground, with eyes directed straight down towards the floor so that the neck is neutral, rather than arched back. Tighten the buttocks by squeezing the heels together and keep the lower back from arching by performing the Drawing In exercise available in this prescription.

In this position, squeeze the shoulder blades back and down towards the back pockets while pulling the backs of the hands backward and upwards towards the ceiling behind you. Hold this position for one second, and then lower the palms down to just above the floor without resting them on the ground. Repeat this movement five times before transitioning the arms to the ‘Y’ position.

Perform another five repetitions in the ‘Y’ and ‘I’ positions, while consciously keeping the shoulder blades pulled down and back towards the back pockets, the eyes looking directly downwards, and the lower back from arching. Try to keep the hands from resting on the ground at any time during the set.

Common Mistakes

• Compensating by arching the lower back and neck. Prevent this by keeping the buttocks and lumbopelvic muscles activated, and the chin and eyes down.

• Not emphasizing the movement of the shoulder blades. This movement is designed to strengthen the muscles that pull the shoulder blades together. Try to make the shoulder blades touch each other in the middle of the back in each repetition of the exercise.

Progression Threshold

You should be able to perform all 3 sets of 5 repetitions without resting the hands on the floor before progressing