How to Give the Best Therapeutic Back Massage to a Loved One
When you or a loved one is experiencing back pain, it is difficult to do anything. Laying down hurts, standing hurts, sitting hurts, and there seems to be no end to it. Back massages are a wonderful tool to use for those who have aches and pains in their upper, mid, and lower back muscles. The excellent part of it is that anyone can give a back massage! Back massages are great for the elderly, athletes, or a significant other. Just about anyone can receive and enjoy a back massage but it does take a little research and practice to give an excellent massage to a loved one.
Types of Massages and Back Pain
The type of massage you give depends on the person you are giving the massage to and why you are giving them the massage. There are different techniques of back massages, each technique varies by each person’s needs, but there are two main types. These two types are: therapeutic and deep tissue massages. There is also equipment that can help in optimizing the massage experience.
Today, we will be learning how to give therapeutic massages for the back and more specifically, the lower back.
Lower back pain is a common issue for many; in fact, about two-thirds of the US population experience lower back pain. However, about 37% of people who experience lower back pain do not seek professional help in dealing with it. The good news is, you don’t always need a professional to give relief to a loved one who suffers from lower back pain. With this quick guide, you can learn how to give a great massage for those who deal with lower back pain.
Back pain is a common condition that will affect approximately 80% of the population at some time in their life. Most cases of back pain are not caused by serious illnesses like cancer or fracture and are more likely to affect people who remain inactive throughout the day, such as those who work desk jobs or weekend warriors. But the question remains, “How do you give a back massage to a loved one who suffers?” Well, read more to find out how to give a great back massage!
– Recommended Reading: Why Am I Sore After a Massage?: Getting to Know How Massage Works.
How to Give an Upper Back and Lower Back Massage
As we discussed above, there are two main types of massage techniques: therapeutic and deep tissue. Therapeutic massages are mainly used to soothe the muscle, relax the patient, and mobilize soft tissue. It is the kind of massage you typically associate with spa visits. Deep Tissue massages are used for getting into the deeper layers of tissue and are used to relieve chronic pains and aches. Each person is different in their preference on what type of massage works for them. However, for this tutorial, we will be focusing on a therapeutic massage.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have a license to give massages. So doesn’t that mean I can’t do it?”.
Well, the real answer is, “You don’t have to be a license therapist to give someone a massage”.
With this quick and easy guide, you will learn how to give your significant other or family member a great massage to relieve any aches or pains they may have. Just keep in mind that, even though, you do not need a license to give someone a relaxing massage. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a license massage therapist, especially if the pain is severe or chronic.
What You Will Need
No matter what massage you are giving, you will want a type of lubrication, like lotion or oil. This will help the person you are giving the massage to relax, reduce the amount of friction during the massage, and allow the skin to be moisturized and supple. Be sure to choose a good quality oil or lotion, either non-scented or a very light scent, nothing overpowering.
For the area your loved one will be laying on. You will need to find a sturdy surface they can lay face down on. For their comfort, you may want to cover the area the person will be laying on with warm towels or blankets to soften the surface and give their body support.
Giving the Massage
Start by rubbing the oil or lotion on your hands, covering them generously. By making a figure eight motion on their back, make sure to cover the entire surface area with the oil or lotion. You may then begin slowly increasing the amount of pressure during the back rub. Try to avoid using too much pressure in the spinal and other boney regions during the massage. With gliding strokes upward, slowly increase the amount of pressure and gently apply this pressure to the muscles surrounding the spine. Work your way from the top of the spine down toward the tailbone. While you are there, begin giving the lower back massage by making a figure eight motion on their lower back. Make sure the entire surface area has oil or lotion on it.
Once the surface area is covered, begin massaging very gently. This light touch is called effleurage. Effleurage should last for five minutes. This allows your loved one’s back to warm up and prepare for the applied pressure of the massage in that tender area.
Once you have finished with this step, begin with light strokes upward, toward the heart. You want to move upward because that is the direction the blood flows. Increasing slightly in pressure, keep your movements from tailbone through the lower back and slowly move back downward and around through the sides.
Bringing your hands back up, use your palms and knuckles to knead the lower back area, this helps to break up any knots. Use your thumbs to slowly massage in a circular motion above the buttocks muscles towards the very center of the lower back. Splay your fingers and rub through the lower back area and through the sides. Repeat this around five to ten times.
As you slowly work your way back up to the top of the back, apply pressure to the shoulders and upper neck muscles. These areas are where a lot of our tension is held, especially tension due to stress. As you work your way through the massage, be sure that you are moving your body fluidly with your hands. Making sure your body is as fluid as your hand movements insure a smooth, lengthy massage and prevent you from injury. Once done, do not quickly remove your hands but instead, slowly and gently move your hands away from the skin. This allows a less abrupt end and lengthens the connection between you and your loved one.
Here are some tips and tricks to giving a great message and how to keep your loved one comfortable. Communication between you and the loved one is very important. Here are just some suggestions on how to achieve a better massage:
- The slower your movements are, the more of a calming and soothing effect your massage will have.
- Be careful to not wear your thumbs out when using them to apply pressure. Instead, try supporting your fingers and thumb with your other fingers and thumb.
- Try covering the parts of the body that are not being worked on with a warm towel to keep your loved one warm and comfortable.
- It is very important to make sure your loved one is comfortable. Asking questions like,” Are you warm enough?” and “How does that feel?”, will invite feedback so you can give the best massage possible.
- Never apply direct pressure on bony areas, including the spine
Now It’s Your Turn
Back pain is a very common issue that is self-treatable, as well as, preventable given the right techniques and tips. Some steps you can take to prevent back pain are: stretching before prolonged or strenuous activities, avoiding activities that force you to remain seated for a prolonged period, maintaining an active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy diet, and keeping a healthy weight.
All of these tips can help prevent back pain but won’t necessarily stop it from happening. You may also want to complement massages with regular chiropractic visits but be sure to get a doctors approval before booking an appointment, as to avoid further damage or pain. Just as a caution, always ask the loved one you are massaging to let you know if anything feels tender or hurts. Listen to them and make sure to follow their instruction when it comes to placement and pressure of each massage. If any pain worsens or is chronic, please seek a Licensed Massage Therapist or Medical Professional.
Thank you for reading this tutorial and feel free to comment below!