How to Massage the Upper Back

How to Massage the Upper Back

Upper back massages target the muscles located around the middle and upper parts of the spine.

They include a range of different techniques for relieving pain, muscle tightness, and muscle tension.

These techniques encourage blood flow to different parts of the body while at the same time ensuring that the muscles are nourished with oxygen and nutrients.

Upper back massages also increase the temperature around the muscles, which aids in maintaining healthier muscles. You can use upper back massages for relaxation, pain and stress management, and as post-surgery therapy.

Techniques Used in Upper Back Massage

Different techniques can be used to perform upper back massages. Some can involve the use of a back massager.


This is a technique used to apply pressure to trigger points and muscle knots by making use of thumbs and fingertips. As pressure is applied, muscular knots break down and soften.

This results in a decrease in pain. The body’s natural healing process is activated as it heals the damaged muscles around the upper back. This allows a better flow of blood to the upper back muscles, which nourishes the area with oxygen and nutrients.


This is a type of upper back massage technique that incorporates the use of thumbs and fingertips to apply pressure across muscle fibers.

Friction increases the flow of blood throughout the body while increasing the temperature around the muscles.

This technique softens and breaks down collagen fibers that build up in the muscles and cause muscle restriction. An increase in muscle temperature increases elasticity as it reduces tension. Read more here.

Myofascial release

This is a massage technique administered using fingers and flat hands. The hands are placed on the upper back to put pressure on the target areas.

The hands are moved slowly around the upper back to spread the fascia, a thin and tough layer of connective tissues located below the skin.

The myofascial release technique soothes and relaxes muscles while increasing the temperature in the soft tissues to increase flexibility and elasticity. This technique also improves lymphatic and blood circulation.

Skin rolling

This is a massage technique that involves picking up the skin and rolling it between the thumbs and fingers. Skin rolling is a method that can be used to loosen tight muscles.

It results in improved muscle elasticity and flexibility. When muscles are relaxed and flexible, they are free from muscle tightness, tension, and stress.

Skin rolling can aid in maintaining healthy muscles since it increases the flow of blood, which boosts the flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.


This technique involves the use of flat hands and fingers to apply pressure to the upper back. The applied pressure ranges from firm to light throughout the upper back.

Effleurage increases muscle temperature, which boosts elasticity and reduces muscle tightness. This eventually leads to a reduction in upper back pain, reduces the development of new muscle injury, and facilitates the healing of injured muscles. (

How to Give an Upper Back Massage

You will need a massage bed or mat, massage oil, towels, and any other items you prefer to use.

  • Have the recipient undress as comfortable. This should expose the upper back as this is the target location.
  • Have them lie face down on the massage bed.
  • Place a folded towel beneath the ankles to support the lower back.
  • Pour massage oil onto your hands and then apply it to the recipient’s upper back. Massage oils decrease the friction on the skin and prevent hair pulling. If you are going for a friction massage, avoid using too much oil so you can get a deeper pressure penetration.
  • Spread the oil generously around the upper back.
  • Use any of the techniques above exclusively or alternate them throughout your massage session. Use slow movements to deliver soothing and calming responses.

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