As we’ve explained in this newsletter series, myofascial pain syndrome is a common condition that can affect any muscle in the body, but the muscles of the upper back, neck, and shoulder region have a particularly high risk of being involved. The deep, aching pain and stiffness that results from the characteristic trigger points in myofascial pain syndrome often then go on to impair one’s mobility and reduce quality of life in the process.
If you happen to notice symptoms that could be related to myofascial pain syndrome, it’s important to realize that this is a very treatable condition that responds well to many interventions. Targeted exercises are generally regarded as a mainstay of treatment and one of the best initial steps you can take if you’re dealing with upper back pain. When performed correctly and regularly, these exercises will increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles often associated with myofascial pain, thereby alleviating pain over time.
We strongly recommend a set of four exercises that are usually referred to by the acronym “WITY.” This title is a reflection of body’s position during each exercise, which resembles one of each of these four letters when being performed. All four exercises are to be done while you lie flat with your stomach on the ground, either on the floor, a workout bench, or the edge of a bed, so that your arms can move freely. You can do these exercises with a light weight (1-2 lbs.) or with no weights, and you should aim to perform about 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions for each exercise:
For additional guidance on how to properly perform the WITY exercises, click here or here (WITY exercises start around 3:32) to watch physical therapist-led instructional videos. These exercises should provide some relief for your myofascial pain, but if you’re still experiencing painful limitations, a physical therapist can also help by setting you up with a personalized treatment program to address your condition. We will discuss the role of physical therapy for myofascial pain syndrome in our next post.