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Mid Back Pain Explained

Midback pain is not an uncommon thing.  With normal daily tasks or training, you can develop pain in the mid back area.  Or maybe you don’t feel pain, but you feel more of a stiffness, a tightness, or just not comfortable.

Many times mid back pain presents as muscle pain, but it is possible that a rib issues is present.  It is likely a combination of both…a rib issues causing a muscle issue.

The ribs are connected to our spine through joints.  When it comes to joints, if they are in place and moving properly, we typically don’t have pain.  If they get out of place or don’t move properly, we experience pain.  The ribs are no different.

So how do these ribs get out of place or stuck?  Easier than you think.  It can be as simple as pulling or pushing an object, either symmetrically or asymmetrically.  Excessive or intense coughing or sneezing can cause it.  Basically, simple tasks you wouldn’t think of because they are nothing out of the ordinary.

But when they are affected, it can be painful.  It can make simple things such as reaching overhead difficult.  Rolling over in bed can be painful. You may notice pain when taking a deep breath in, laughing, or coughing.  It is limiting to your normal, daily life.

It can be difficult for the untrained person to tell if a rib is out of place or not moving properly.  When palpating the area, it feels like a tight muscle.  In fact, it could just be a tight muscle.  One way you can figure it out is to work the area like you would a tight muscle – massage, lacrosse ball, etc.  If it resolves the issue and the issue stays away, then problem solved.  If the problem remains, without change, than a rib is likely contributing.  This is not always the case, but the probability is high that it is a rib issue in these scenarios.

So how to do correct it?  It may be as simple as lying on your back with a lacrosse ball at the area of discomfort, allowing yourself to relax and take deep breaths in that position.  If that doesn’t work, you can attempt a muscle energy technique as seen in this video…

If self treatments do not work, it may be time to see someone to address it.  Many physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists can assist you with addressing rib issues.  The sooner you get your pain issues addressed, the faster you will recover and get back to training to your full potential!

More questions about this?  Comment below or email me at

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