Massage For Back Pain: Common Types, Techniques, Guides, And More


Back pain is a worldwide issue, with over 23% of adults suffering from persistent back pain. It is more common in unfit adults and women, especially those over 30. Furthermore, other variables might cause back pain, such as trauma, degenerative changes in the spine, and so on. Back pain can affect anybody and practically everyone at some point in their lives. Generally, it is not a reason to worry about, and a massage for back pain can provide comfort. 

massage for back pain

Does massage works, and what are the best types of Massage For Back Pain?

A massage is a good approach for back pain. Numerous massage techniques are available, such as deep tissue, Swedish, trigger point treatment, sports massage, shiatsu, and others. Remember that a particular form of massage works best based on the person's preferences and health.

This article will discuss self-massage methods, massage for back pain, and ways to treat persistent back pain. Let's discuss these in greater detail now.

I. 4 Common Back Pain Types & Their Symptoms

A variety of sources cause back pain and affect different areas of the body, resulting in a variety of symptoms. It is critical to understand your pain type since treatment is recommended based on the type of pain you are experiencing. 

The pain might be acute, subacute, recurring, or chronic. The most prevalent types of back pain and associated symptoms are listed below.

01. Redicular Pain (Sciatica) 

Redicular pain, often known as Sciatica, is a type of back pain that begins in the lower back but worsens in the legs and, as a result, radiates along the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the biggest nerve present in the body; any change or inflammation in the nerve root can cause back discomfort (1)(2). 

Redicular pain

This irritation can be caused by nerve inflammation, pressure, trauma, or, more commonly, a disc-related alteration (Spondylolisthesis). Sciatica can vary in strength and duration, and in most cases, it will go on its own with time, but it can also damage nerves, resulting in serious consequences (3). 

If you think you have Sciatica, you should see your doctor immediately because practically all spine issues have the same symptoms. Let's have a look at the symptoms (4).

  • A sharp, intense, and electric shock-like pain radiates from the lower back through the buttock and down to the leg.
  • Muscular weakness, numbness, and tingling sensation in the leg or foot
  • Pain and difficulty in moving leg or foot
  • Coughing, sneezing, and walking long distances can trigger the pain

02. Herniated Disc Pain

A herniated disc is a situation in which the soft inner core of a spinal disc pushes through the outer layer, causing the disc to shift or burst. This condition can be caused by trauma, injury, excessive back strain, or the natural aging process and degeneration of the spinal discs (5)(6). 

Herniated Disc Pain

A slipped disc can cause back pain in several regions, including the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region), with varying degrees of severity. Pain can be relieved with drugs, physical treatments for herniated discs, and injections, but it can also be deadly and necessitates emergency surgery (7). 

If pain relievers aren't working, and you have a high fever, back swelling, and abrupt weight loss, you should see a doctor. Let's look at the signs of a slipping disc.

  • Pain in the back (if lumbar herniated disc) or neck (cervical herniated disc)
  • Often caused, Sciatica leads to shooting and sharp pain in the back
  • Numbness and pin-and-needles sensations occurred in the lower back, shoulder, arm, and hands.
  • Change of sensations and muscle weakness.

03. Muscular Pain

Muscular discomfort is the most typical type of back pain characterized by aching, soreness, and pain. Many causes can contribute, including muscle tension, bad posture, musculoskeletal diseases like fibromyalgia or ankylosing spondylitis, or a sudden injury. A slipped disc or spinal stenosis can cause muscular pain (8).

Muscular Pain

Poor posture, overuse, prolonged muscle stress, inflammation, and imbalance all contribute to these conditions. Muscular discomfort is an unpleasant ailment, but it is usually not dangerous; patients can manage it independently by using muscle therapy and massage. It is essential to consult your physician if you experience significant back pain and symptoms (9). 

  • Aching, pain, and soreness in the affected area.
  • The muscle may feel tightness and difficulty performing a movement. 
  • Involuntary muscle spasms and sharp pain

04. Chronic Pain

Chronic back pain is the most unpleasant ailment lasting for more than three months and causes patients to experience persistent and recurring pain. This illness can have an impact on a person's daily activities as well as their overall quality of life (10)(11). 

Chronic Pain

Various reasons, including underlying medical diseases such as fibromyalgia or ankylosing spondylitis, spinal conditions such as a slipped disc or spondylolisthesis, injuries, and a poor lifestyle can cause chronic pain  (10). 

Identifying the source of the pain to receive relief and implement the appropriate treatment is critical. The following are some frequent signs of chronic back pain:

  • Persistent and recurrent pain
  • Lead to emotional distress, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
  • Impact your daily routine activities.
  • Cause stiffness and reduce flexibility.

II. Massage Therapies To Relieve Chronic Back Pain 

Massage is a traditional treatment approach that can help reduce back discomfort. It can alleviate pain and hasten recovery. Furthermore, it relieves pain by lowering muscle tension, boosting blood circulation, encouraging relaxation, and producing endorphins, natural pain relievers (12). Let's have a deep analysis of some of the massage techniques for back pain relief. 

01. Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most famous and commonly used type of therapeutic massage. This massage stimulates relaxation by releasing muscle tension and may loosen up tight muscles caused by daily activities such as exercising, or sitting for work. It benefits patients with neck, lower back, or shoulder pain (13).

Swedish Massage

This massage focuses on the highest layer of muscles and includes long, kneading strokes mixed with rhythmic tapping strokes and joint movement. Massage, in fact, is gentler and better suited to those seeking relaxation and tension alleviation.

How to Do Swedish Massage

  • Choose a comfortable and calming environment.
  • Apply the warm oil or lotion and gentle strokes onto the person's skin to spread it evenly.
  • Start sweeping strokes by using your palm from neck to downward. Maintain pressure and repeat the process.
  • Perform kneading motions (petrissage) to release tension.
  • End the session with gentle tapping or chopping motions (tapotement) for stimulation.

02. Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage in some ways, but it uses more pressure, which can sometimes be uncomfortable, and serves other purposes. It is ideal for athletes, runners, those recovering from injuries, and people suffering from chronic conditions such as lower back discomfort (14)(15). 

Deep Tissue Massage

This type of massage promotes healing by relaxing contracted muscles and tissues. It may enhance blood flow to soft tissues and reduce inflammation. This massage relieves back pain by targeting the inner layer of muscles and tendons (15).

How to Do Deep Tissue Massage

  • Prepare a comfortable environment and understand the concern of a person with back pain.
  • Spread warm oil or lotion onto the skin and start with effleurage, using long, gliding strokes to warm up the muscles.
  • Apply deep pressure and slow, firm strokes to release tension.
  • Perform knitting and circular motion to target specific areas.
  • Encourage deep breathing and relaxation to enhance the therapeutic effects.

03. Trigger Point Therapy

Aside from alleviating back pain, trigger point therapy offers various other benefits. It is a highly recommended and effective massage that targets trigger points. A trigger point is a small, tight region in the taut muscle fibers and fascia band. It concentrates on certain trigger points or knots by forcing fresh blood in and flushing waste material out (16). 

Trigger Point Therapy

This alleviates part of your discomfort by increasing the presence of oxygen in the area and encouraging the muscles to relax. It works in the muscles to reduce pain and restore healthy muscle function. Trigger points might be active or passive. Active trigger points induce pain while at rest or when pressured. Passive or latent trigger sites only elicit pain in reaction to compression. 

How to Do Trigger Point Therapy

  • Identify the areas of discomfort and apply direct pressure using your fingertips, thumbs, or a massage tool onto the specific trigger point for 30-60 seconds.
  • Gradually increase the pressure to a tolerable level.
  • Use slow, sweeping, or small circular movements while maintaining pressure, and repeat this process for other identified trigger points.

Trigger point therapy must be carried out by a qualified professional or under their supervision to guarantee safety and efficacy.

04. Hot Stone Massage 

It is a well-liked and efficient kind of massage that can help you unwind and relieve tight muscles and damaged soft tissues all over your body. A type of volcanic rock is placed on the body to relax muscles, improve blood flow, and alleviate pain; heated stones are typically made of basalt (17).

Hot Stone Massage

The warm, flat, and smooth stones are placed on your toes, feet, or along your spine to relax the tense muscles that cause back discomfort. The skin can sometimes be soothed, and any engorged blood vessels can be reduced using cold stones after hot stones. 

It is safe if professionals do this, but avoid this massage if you have consequences like 

  • Open wounds
  • A history of blood clots
  • Diabetes
  • A low platelet count

How to Do Hot Stone Massage

  • Choose and heat smooth basalt stones to a comfortable temperature.
  • Apply oil or lotion to reduce friction and begin with Swedish massage techniques.
  • Massage the person's body with a heated stone using long, gliding strokes. Also, do the kneading, circular motions, and gentle pressure on specific areas.
  • Keep the stone moving and end the massage with gentle, soothing strokes and allow the person to relax.

05. Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu, which translates to "finger pressure," applies pressure with the thumbs, fingers, elbows, and knees to specific meridians, or energy routes, in the body. Pressure is administered at a precise location for the relief of back pain. It is thought to enhance the lymphatic system's performance and blood flow (18).

Shiatsu Massage

This massage is calming and strengthens the immune system; it can be particularly beneficial for accelerated healing after an illness or minor surgery. Shiatsu massage is less unpleasant. However, people with high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, diabetes, local open wounds, recent scars, inflammation, varicose veins, and other medical conditions should avoid it.

How to Do Shiatsu Massage

  • Warm up the body by gentle stretching and palming.
  • Apply pressure along the body's meridians and specific points called tsubos.
  • Use fingers and palms to rotate the muscles and incorporate joint mobilization techniques.
  • Encourage deep breaths and conclude the 30-90-minute session with gentle, soothing strokes.

06. Sports Massage

Sports massage can help relieve back pain caused by muscle tension or injuries sustained while participating in sports. Sports massage is performed by professionals who use a variety of techniques to reduce muscle discomfort and increase recovery. This therapy is more concentrated and systematic, focusing on a single muscle. 

sport massage

Sports muscles help to reduce back pain by increasing joint range of motion, decreasing muscular stress and spasms, and decreasing neural excitability. Athletes place a high emphasis on sports massage.

How to Do Shiatsu Massage

  • Create a comfortable environment and understand the concern of the person.
  • Apply oil or lotion onto the body to reduce friction and techniques, including Swedish massage, effleurage, deep tissue techniques, stretching, and joint mobilization.
  • Focus and apply pressure on the affected area according to the person's comfort.

07. Thai Massage 

Thai massage, also known as Thai yoga massage, is a traditional therapy that dates back thousands of years. This massage can help people relax, ease muscle or joint pain, and momentarily improve their mood. It incorporates acupressure, stretching, and passive yoga-like motions to reduce muscle tension and enhance flexibility (13).

Thai massage

Thai massage is not considered gentle; it is harsh and unpleasant. This massage is beneficial for back pain relief and is an effective therapeutic therapy for Sciatica. Thai massage requires sufficient training and practice to ensure safety and effectiveness. 

How to Do Thai Massage

  • Create a comfortable environment and understand the need of the person
  • Apply pressure and perform stretching techniques using fingers, palms, and elbows
  • Use yoga-like postures and rocking movements to stretch and mobilize.
  • The massage should be conducted in a fluid, rhythmic manner.
  • Conclude the massage by gently rocking the recipient's body.

08. Cupping 

Cupping is an old method of massage that involves placing cups on the back, legs, stomach, or other body areas. The cup contains a vacuum that pulls the skin and causes it to feel tight. It may not be painful, but it may induce temporary bruising (called ecchymosis), swelling, or soreness, depending on the person and treatment (19).

Cupping  back pain massage

Professionals must do it, and it is efficient in relieving back pain. It reduces the symptoms of arthritis, neck discomfort, and shoulder pain. It is almost risk-free therapy, although the following people should avoid it:

  • People with hemophilia (blood disorder)
  • Record of the blood clot
  • Epilepsy and some skin problems

How to Do Cupping

  • Use a flame and suction pump to create suction on the selected part of the body.
  • Put the cup on the body and leave it for 5 -15 minutes. Keep in mind the comfort of the person.
  • Release the suction gently to remove the cups.
  • Further, enhance the therapeutic effect by massaging the treated area.

09. Devices Used For Back Pain Relieve

Some devices are available that aid in massage techniques and relieve back pain. There are numerous massage gadgets on the market. Let's have a look at some examples:

OrthoPro - Electric Lower Back Massager with Heat Function

An electric lower back massage device is a device that provides you with comfort through a specific mechanism; it uses intense, repeated dynamic traction to stretch your lower back. Its unique design includes a vibrator and a heating system that you can regulate. This device increases blood flow and oxygen, relieving discomfort and releasing muscle tension. Here are some of the advantages:

  • FDA approved
  • 4.89 out of 5 stars customer reviews
  • Sale Price: £149.99

OrthoPro - Infrared Heating Lower Back Support Belt

The Infrared Heating Lower Back Support Belt contains built-in heat pads that heat the waist and abdomen, relieving back pain, abdominal aches, menstrual cramps, stomach discomfort, and leg difficulties. It has a one-of-a-kind arrangement that includes a vibrator, red light heating, and long battery life. Here are some advantages of using infrared heating lower back support belt:

  • Customer reviews 4.88 out of 5
  • Suitable for all ages
  • Sale Price: £ 89.99
  • One year warranty

III. Self-Massage For Back Pain How-to Guide

You can give yourself a massage at home whenever you are in discomfort. If massage helps ease back discomfort, try it again, but consult a doctor if the pain persists. Follow these steps:

  • Choose a comfortable, cozy place, and use a soft mat or surface to support your body.
  • Warm up your muscles with workouts, then add a little lotion or oil to prevent friction.
  • Concentrate on specific areas and begin with soft strokes with your fingertips, palms, knuckles, and thumbs. Experiment with various techniques.
  • Take deep breaths and gradually lengthen the session.

 You can do a massage with some equipment: Here is a list of some self-massage techniques:

01. Foam Roller Massage

Foam Roller Back Pain Massage

Foam roller massage allows you to provide deep tissue massage, relieving muscular tightness, pain, and inflammation while increasing joint range of motion.

  • Place the roller below your back.
  • Apply pressure into the roller to target the source of your back pain and move the roller along your back.

02. Use Small Balls

Small Balls back pain massae

Following the steps for back pain relief:

  • Face up on the mat and place two tennis balls under your midback, one on each side of your spine. 
  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
  • Slowly move and roll the ball along your back.
  • Increase pressure according to your comfort and do this process repeatedly. 

03. Neck and Shoulder Massage

Neck and Shoulder Massage

Massage the sides of your neck and the base of your skull with your fingertips. Apply circular motions to your shoulder muscles with your opposing hands.

04. Lower Back Self Massage

Lower Back Self Massage

Lower back discomfort usually goes away on its own after a few days. You can alleviate pain using a handheld massager or another home massage tool. Apply mild pressure and circular motions to your lower back muscles using your fingertips or knuckles.

IV. Way To Relieve Chronic Back Pain Naturally

There are several natural remedies available to relieve chronic back pain (20) (21). Have a look at these natural pain-relieving strategies and see what works best for you:

01. Improve Your Diet

A proper diet can alleviate inflammation and discomfort. Taking the meal written below helps with back pain relief.

improve diet to improve back pain
  • Healthy Fats: It reduces inflammation while providing essential nutrients for joint and muscular function. Consume avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D: They are in charge of maintaining bone health. Include dairy products, fortified plant-based milk, leafy greens, and sunshine exposure (for vitamin D production).
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acid: Eat meals high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to pain reduction. Fatty fish (salmon, sardines), chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts are good sources.
  • Balance Diet: Add lean proteins (chicken, fish, tofu), vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and healthy fats to your diet. Include antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. 

02. Take Anti-inflammatory Drinks

Anti-inflammatory beverages can induce the release of beneficial chemicals into the bloodstream, which aid in reducing and eliminating inflammatory reactions in the body. Include these drinks in your balanced diet. Consider the following for back pain relief:

Take Anti-inflammatory Drinks to relieve back pain
  • Turmeric Latte (Golden Milk): Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory substance. Golden milk is a hot turmeric, milk, and ginger beverage. This milk is highly anti-inflammatory.
  • Ginger Tea: Ginger has long been used as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Making ginger tea by steeping fresh ginger in hot water can give soothing benefits and help reduce inflammation.
  • Tart Cherry Juice: Tart cherries contain many antioxidants and chemicals that may aid in inflammation reduction. Tart cherry juice has been linked to less muscle soreness and faster recovery from exercise-induced inflammation.

03. Maintain A Good Posture

Posture refers to your body's position and alignment while sitting, standing, or moving. One of the most common causes of back pain is poor posture. Maintain good posture throughout the day. Here are some tips for keeping your posture in good shape and avoiding back pain.

Maintain A Good Posture
  • Sit properly: Maintain a straight back, relaxed shoulders, and flat feet while sitting.
  • Avoid Slouching: Avoid slouching or leaning forward when sitting or standing for a prolonged time. 
  • Exercise regularly: Regularly strengthening your core muscles, back, and neck can help support good posture. 

04. Try Mindful Meditation

Try Mindful Meditation

You can focus better and feel less stressed by practicing focused concentration through meditation, which involves repeatedly returning to the present. It has been demonstrated to relieve lower back pain successfully.

Choose a quiet and comfortable location, relax, and concentrate on breathing. Be gentle with yourself, and don't let your concentration wander. Take a few deep breaths. Begin with brief sessions of 5-10 minutes and progressively increase the time.


01. Which oil is best for back pain massage?

Use essential oils sourced from some plants' leaves, seeds, flowers, fruits, and bark. Peppermint oil, wintergreen oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, Roman and German chamomile oils, and others are essential oils for back discomfort.

02. What not to do after a back massage?

Massage can help with discomfort, but managing its aftereffects is important. Avoid drinking alcohol, drinking coffee, engaging in strenuous exercise or other activities, getting stressed out, and immediately showering after a massage. 

03. What should you not eat when you have back pain?

Some meals might aggravate inflammation and cause back pain. Sugary foods, refined grains, dairy products, processed corn, red meat, foods containing chemicals, pasta, rice, and fried dishes should all be avoided. 

Sum Up

Back pain has several causes, and the best treatment is massage. It provides a variety of back pain relief treatments, including Swedish massage, deep tissue massage for persistent tension, and sports massage. You should consult a professional massage therapist for a thorough treatment plan. Moreover, to avoid chronic back pain, you should add natural remedies like exercise and a balanced diet to your daily routine.

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