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Back Massage Techniques and Back Care Tips

Man with lower back pain

Let's look at some basic back massage techniques and back care tips. Learn how to decrease your risk of back pain and help relieve any pain that does occur.

Back Care Tips

Three important factors in taking care of your back are correct body mechanics, exercise, and good posture.

Body Mechanics

Body mechanics refers to how you use your body in all your activities. Here are a few tips:

  • When standing, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight evenly distributed between both feet.
  • Move from your center of gravity, located an inch or two below your navel. If you move using your upper body, which many people tend to do, it's less efficient and requires more physical effort and tension than moving from your center. Take a movement class that emphasizes moving from the center or ask a movement specialist for advice.
  • To pick up something from the floor, kneel on one knee.
  • When you lift a heavy object, stand close to it. Squat and use your legs to lift, keeping your back straight and the object close to your body. Avoid twisting as you lift.
  • When you reach for an overhead object, make sure your shoulders and hips face the object and avoid twisting.
  • If you work at a desk, get up and move around as often as you can. Also, make sure you have good computer ergonomics. Choose an office chair that provides back support.


Strong, flexible muscles are important in maintaining a healthy back. You want to focus on both the back muscles and the abdominal muscles, along with general body conditioning. If you already have back problems, the best thing to do is consult a physical therapist or exercise specialist for an exercise program tailored to your needs.


Many people have the wrong idea about posture. It's not some rigid position but rather a fluid, dynamic alignment of your body as you go about your daily activities.

Many factors contribute to poor posture, including muscle imbalances. Massage therapy can help improve posture by stretching short muscles and fascia (the connective tissue around muscles and other tissues), creating better movement around the joints and relaxing tight muscles that can pull your body out of alignment.

Back Massage Techniques

Back Massage Technique

If you want to use back massage techniques on a partner or friend  at home, here are few points to remember:

  • Massage in a way that is comfortable to the person receiving massage. Ask for feedback.
  • Never put direct pressure onto a bony surface.
  • You can use any kind of oil or lotion, as long as it gives you some glide. Generally, the less oil you use, the deeper you can make the pressure of the massage strokes.
  • Don't massage someone with a back injury or serious medical condition without a doctor's OK.

Back Massage Instructions

Note: Friction means you don't slide over the skin. Rather, move the skin over the underlying muscle.

  1. Stand at your partner's head. 

  2. Rub a few drops of oil or lotion into your hands. 

  3. Place your hands at your partner's shoulders and glide your hands along the sides of the spine until you reach the sacrum (the flat triangle-shaped bone at the bottom of the spine). Repeat at least three times.

  4. Place the pads of your thumbs at the outer edge of the top of one shoulder blade and glide in toward the neck. Stay on the fleshy part of the muscle. Repeat at least three times on each shoulder.

  5. Use your fingers or thumbs or knuckles to apply pressure and make small circles using friction on the shoulders: on top of the shoulder, on the shoulder blade, and along the edges of the shoulder blade.

  6. Apply pressure and make small circles using friction on the back along the fleshy part at the sides of the spine. Start at the top of the spine and massage all the way to the lower back.

  7. Apply pressure and make small circles using friction on the hips: along the top edges of the hip bones, on the sacrum, and on the surrounding muscles.

  8. Use you whole hands to broadly knead the lower back. Knead all the way up the back until you reach the shoulders.

  9. Knead the top of the shoulders and back of the neck, being careful not to pinch.

  10. Finish with the same stoke you started with, making it lighter each time.

Video: Swedish Back Massage Technique

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Photo Credits: Man with back pain from staras / 123RF Stock Photo and Massage Photo Licensed from Natural Touch Marketing.