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Updated on May 18, 2013

Deep tissue massage

This is me doing some deep tissue on my wife.
This is me doing some deep tissue on my wife. | Source

How to relieve back pain with deep tissue massage

Back pain is the 2nd most common reason people visit their doctors. Deep tissue massage is a fantastic way to relieve back pain due to tight muscles which can cause pain by putting pressure on nerves and restrict circulation. The cost of a deep tissue massage is around $60-$85 for one hour. It is generally considered a more advance technique, but if you have a knack for massage, you should be able to do a great pain relieving back massage by following the steps below.

First, a few words of caution. It is always recommended that you see your physician if you have back pain. It could be caused by something other than mechanical pain which can be helped with deep tissue massage. I also recommend you specifically ask your physician about massage if you suffer from any medical conditions, and avoid massage if you have an acute injury or are running a fever.

Step 1: Have the person with back pain lie down on their stomach. It is ideal to have a massage table so that you can perform these techniques without straining. It is also necessary for them to take off their shirt, and if female to remove their bra as well. This allows for better friction when working along the back so you can engage the tissue more effectively.

Step 2: Start out by putting a very small amount of lotion or oil on your hands. Just a few drops is enough. You want your hands to only be able to slowly glide, but it should feel like if you move any faster you will pull their skin. If the recipient has body hair, you may use a bit more lotion, but try to use just enough so you don't pull the hair.

Step 3: Begin by grabbing the skin with your entire hands. Grab and release, grab and release. Think of it like you are kneading dough. The recipients skin should turn red after you do this for a bit.

Step 4: Make a fist, but keep your fingers relaxed. Use your entire body, not just your arms and hands to push into the tissue. Sink in as the recipient exhales and then twist your fists so that they move in a clockwise motion.

Step 5: Once the back looks nice and pink (the circulation has been increased in the area) switch to using your elbow. Begin at the side of the spine on the lowest part of their back, just above the hip bones. Use your hand as a guide to find the spine and top of the hip bones, and place your elbow gently above the area.

Step 6: Ask the recipient to take a deep breathe and let them know if the pressure is too much they should say something. As they exhale you will sink straight down, staying in the same spot for a few breaths. Once you feel like you have sunk into the tissue you can slowly begin moving upwards. You should be sliding at a very slow pace. Think about moving an inch per minute. Also make sure you are beside the spine. Never push on the spine or any other bones, but work alongside them to address the connecting muscles. There are several muscles running alongside the spine that often can be the culprits of back pain.

Step 7: Continue working with the elbow until reaching the top of the shoulder. The muscles here might be more sensitive, so check in with your recipient to adjust the pressure every couple min. If you are not finding the right amount of pressure and they keep saying "more" or "less" or "aaahhh, that hurts" you are probably straining. Relax and lean your body to apply more or less pressure putting weight in your front leg to increase or back leg to decrease the pressure.

Step 8: Once completing elbow strokes on both sides, apply Biofreeze. This product has a cooling effect which will feel soothing and relieve any lingering pain. If the recipient says it still hurts a little in one area, apply the Biofreeze to that spot and using your hand or elbow do some slow circular motions.

In summary, you need to warm the tissue to increase circulation, use slow deep pressure utilizing the elbow, and then apply a product like Biofreeze to soothe the muscles afterwards. This takes about 20-30 min from start to finish, but can eliminate low back, mid back, and upper back pain. Remember the most important part of deep tissue is to work slowly. The deeper you go, the slower you go.


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