Why is my mid back always tight?


The mid back or thoracic spine runs from the base of the neck/cervical spine to the top of the low back/lumbar spine. It is comprised of 12 vertebrae and has a natural curve outwards. Our ribs attach onto all 12 vertebrae and in conjunction with the breastbone form the thoracic cavity which houses our heart and lungs.

Why does my midback keep getting tight?
We see a lot of people presenting to us with recurring midback stiffness and pain. This is frequently put down to posture and too much sitting or driving. While these may be small factors they are rarely the cause.
As noted above, the mid back sits between the neck and lower back. If there are issues in these areas or poor muscle control, the mid back will jam up or compress to generate more stability in your body. If you don’t address this, the mid back will never free up.
Our diaphragm which is our main breathing muscle attaches onto a large portion of our thoracic spine. If our breathing patterns are not optimal or diaphragm will often become tighter will hence cause tightness on the thoracic spine.

What can I do?
If you have had your mid back worked on, massaged, manipulated but your discomfort comes back, see a physiotherapist that looks at the bigger picture. Your problem may be elsewhere.
Work on breathing better! Focus on regularly through your day breathing in and out through your nose and getting movement of your abdomen and lower ribs. This simple exercise will often loosen your thoracic spine very quickly.
When sitting, try sit neutral. Don’t cross your legs at your desk, curl up in a ball on the sofa in the evening. Get up out of your chair and move at regular intervals through the day.