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Caring for Your Upper Back as an HSP: Strategies for Comfort and Well-Being

Women in a restorative yoga pose, laying over a bolster in a yoga studio

As highly Sensitive People, we are known for our deep emotional experiences and our ability to pick up on subtle cues in their environment. We may become easily overwhelmed in intense or emotionally charged situations, leading to heightened stress and anxiety levels. Upper back pain can manifest as a result of this stress and tension, as well as environmental factors that are interconnected with the HSPS trait.

The Connection Between HSPS and Upper Back Pain

1. Stress and Muscle Tension: Stress is a common response to overwhelming or emotionally charged situations. This stress can lead to muscle tension, particularly in the upper back and shoulder area, which may result in pain and discomfort. This can be a vicious cycle because stress can lead to tension, and then tension can lead to increased stress. We need to interrupt this cycle often to stay in balance.

2. Posture: As highly sensitive people, we may be more prone to adopting tense or protective postures when we feel overwhelmed or anxious. Prolonged poor posture can strain the upper back muscles and potentially lead to pain over time. We may also suffer from fatigue, making it more likely that we will slouch or find less than ideal postures to manage or lack of energy.

3. Sensitivity to Environmental Factors: As highly sensitive people, we are more attuned to our physical environment, and discomfort related to factors like uncomfortable seating or improper ergonomics in our workspace can contribute to our increased upper back pain as well.

Managing Upper Back Pain Related to HSPS

If you're experiencing upper back pain, here are some strategies to consider:

Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness to alleviate emotional tension that can lead to physical discomfort.

Ergonomics: Ensure that your workspace or environment is ergonomically designed to minimize the physical strain on your body. Consider investing in a supportive chair, comfortable lower back pillow, or computer stand that helps you sit up tall yet relaxed white you work. Ideally get up from your desk every 30 mins and take a stretch break.

Regular Exercise and Movement: Engage in regular physical activity, such as stretching and strengthening exercises, to improve posture and alleviate muscle tension. A sedentary lifestyle greatly contributes to upper back tension, especially over time.

Self-Care: Be attentive to self-care routines that promote relaxation and physical well-being, including adequate sleep, balanced nutrition, and regular breaks. Self-care practices such as foam rolling, self-massage and taking warm baths can also help.

Seek Support: There are many practitioners that can help with back pain, including a yoga teacher, chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist and more. They can help you develop strategies to manage both the physical and emotional aspects of your pain and help you stick to your healthy routines.

Yoga: Yoga is my go-to strategy for not only upper back pain, but maintenance and prevention of back pain. We don’t want to wait until we are in serious pain before we begin to support our backs. I recommend my recent yin class, “Upper back and Shoulder Release” as a relaxing way to start your upper back self-care routine. Join for FREE with my free class pass, or 7-day free membership trial!

What do you do to support your back? Let me know in the comments!

With love and sensitivity,



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