Has middle back pain left you wincing after sitting, walking, or doing almost anything else in your daily routine lately? You’re not alone. According to Georgetown University, 65 million U.S. adults will report a recent bout of back pain. And for many, this pain radiates from the area between their shoulder blades and low back.
The good news is that certain natural remedies — such as a massage for middle back pain — could bring you relief. But if you can’t make it to a massage therapist’s office, what are the best techniques to try at home?
In this post, we’ll cover three of the best ways that you can melt away your middle back pain with an at-home massage.
Why Middle Back Pain Occurs
If you’ve ever Googled “middle back pain,” you’ve probably come across articles mentioning the thoracic spine. This is just a fancy, scientific term for your middle spine area. Pain can surface here for a variety of reasons, and the risk factors include:
- Living a sedentary lifestyle, as this can lead to weaker core muscles that support your spine
- Certain diseases such as arthritis
- Smoking, which can reduce blood flow to the spine
- Poor posture and/or sitting hunched over for long periods of time
Why Massage Can Help Middle Back Pain
Massage can help you ease muscle tension, boost blood flow, and increase feel-good endorphins. And depending on the source of your aches, all of these powerful benefits could bring you middle back pain relief.
Massage for Middle Back Pain: 3 Effective Techniques
Because the mid-back region can be kind of tricky to reach on your own, some massage techniques will require tools or help from a partner. Fortunately, there are still some methods you can do on your own, entirely equipment-free.
Here’s how to get started:
Option 1: Massage With Your Own Hands
If you’re dealing with thoracic pain, there’s a good chance that your paraspinal muscles (aka the muscles to either side of your spine) are tight or achy. And while you may not be able to reach your entire back without equipment, you can still use your hands to massage a significant portion of these muscles.
Here are the steps to self-massage your mid-back with your hands:
- Start by standing in an upright position.
- Make your hands into fists and reach behind your back.
- Align your knuckles to either side of your spine.
- Starting at your low spine, use your knuckles to massage up towards your middle back.
- Use up and down or outward motions to knead your muscles, being mindful to focus on your soft tissue (and not the spine itself.)
- Repeat for several minutes or until you feel relief.
Option 2: Using a Foam Roller
A foam roller can help you apply self-myofascial release to your middle back. (Pro tip: You can get an even deeper massage when you use a vibrating roller like this one.)
- Place the foam roller on the ground behind you.
- Sit in front of the roller in the classic sit-up position. You’ll have your legs bent with your knees pointing to the sky and your arms behind your head.
- Then, slowly lean back onto the roller (be sure that the tool aligns with your middle back, rather than your lower spine!)
- Use your leg strength to lift your hips and move back and forth along the roller for up to 30 seconds. This will break up any tension in the fascia around your muscles, as well as the muscles themselves.
Option 3: Using an Electric Body Massager
If you have access to a massage gun or vibrating massager, these are both great tools for massaging your middle back muscles.
When you’ve got a helping hand from another person, the process is pretty simple — you can stand, lie, or sit in a comfortable position. Then, have them use the tool in gentle, circular motions wherever you need it most.
But if you have a user-friendly massage tool such as the MedMassager MMB05, you can use it on yourself by following these steps:
- Find a comfortable place to sit with a high back to lean against. Many types of chairs or couches can work well here.
- Turn the device on to its lowest setting, and place it behind your middle back muscles and the back of the chair.
- Gently lean back and allow the tool to begin working out your muscle tension.
- After a minute or two, you can increase the pressure to your liking.
- Continue to adjust the location of the tool as needed.
- Use for up to 10 minutes at a time, several times per day.
Before Your Get Started with Massage for Middle Back Pain
If your back pain is sharp, long-lasting, or severe, be sure to check in with your doctor before starting a self-massage routine. Occasionally, back pain can occur due to more serious injuries or conditions. And in some cases, it may be better to avoid massage — at least for the time being.
Once you’ve got the go-ahead from a trusted healthcare provider, you can use your own hands, ask a partner, or try a therapeutic, physician-trusted tool like the MedMassager MMB05.