You are asking and I'm answering . . .
I don't know what to do about my back! I'm 26 and have been working at a desk job for the past 3 years. I sit at the thing almost all day long! Recently, my middle and upper back have been killing me!!! My muscles are so tense it feels like my back is just a huge knot! Massages only provide temporary relief. Can you suggest any exercises to improve posture? Should I go to a chiropractor?
I know from experience that sitting all day can wreck anyone's posture and the consequences can be painful. To see my suggestions to get out of this uncomfortable pattern, read more.
In our sedentary society, it is important to remember that we did not evolve to sit all day long, especially in chairs. Our bodies are designed to walk, by some estimates our ancestors walked at least 12 miles a day. So my first bit of advice is to stand up and walk as much as you can throughout the day and over your lunch hour (another reason to not eat at your desk).
The ligaments that support the back of the spine get over stretched when we slump, the muscles that line the spine (the extensor muscles) respond by tensing up. The best thing to alleviate this problem is to move your upper spine and shoulders around during the day. I recommend shoulder circles both forward and backward and squeezing your shoulder blades together multiple times an hour. Also arching over the back of your chair will reverse the slumping curve (here is a photo of the stretch) and it just feels great.
Outside of work, you need to strengthen your upper back with exercises like rowing and your entire back with the superman. Your chest is probably tight as well, and I suggest trying back bends on the ball and stretching your pecs. Of course, working your core muscles to support your torso will help as well (click here for core exercises).
Last but not least, pay attention to the ergonomic set up at your desk. The top of your computer monitor should be at eye level or just below and your wrists should be even or slightly lower than your elbows for typing.
A chiropractor may offer temporary relief too, but taking yoga regularly could solve the problem indefinitely. Good luck and like my mother always reminded me – sit up straight. And in your case even try leaning back a bit.