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Video Tutorial - Myofascial Release Back Massage


Hi, I'm Jesse. I've been a Licensed Massage Therapist for 5 years and my back and wrists feel better than ever today. I'm going to show you how I've protected them by sitting down, and my favorite Myofascial Release techniques for the back.


So this is what you need to understand to protect your wrists as a massage therapist: If I'm trying to do deep pressure on the back, and I'm standing like this, my wrists are perpendicular. This is a bad angle because all of my pressure is going straight into my carpals, which is really going to stress my wrist out, and create injury. But if I simply sit down, now my wrists are straight, so all of my pressure flows through my arm bones, my carpals, and my hand, and more of that force lands on my client. So our pressure is going across the body, a shearing force, which is going to create maximum tissue stretch with minimal compression.

We're going to start broad, warming up the tissues. So this is wringing, using my whole hand to go from one side of the back to the other... and you can see, even though I'm sitting down, I'm still using my body. I have my feet on the ground and I'm rotating my hips and shoulders.

I'm not using any lotion or oil here to help me keep my grip, so it's more fascial, we're really pulling through that connective tissue to get to deeper tissue. You can go right over the shoulderblades. Let the tissue ripple up in the middle there, that's a sign that you have good engagement. If I want to get more specific with this opposite side, it really takes my wrists into flexion, so I'm going to stand to neutralize the angle of my wrist again, and then I can wring the left side of her body.

But we're focused on seated techniques today. So, to work on the same side, if I was trying to do wringing here my wrists are really at a sharp angle and that's not going to feel good to me. So I'll move over here, and then I can point my wrists up the body, and there's still a tiny bit of an angle but it's much much better. I'm trying to keep my fingers pointed in the direction of my pressure. So same side wringing, using my whole hand, lifting up the tissue like a petrissage, decompressing and kneading, really good warm up... I can take it right over the shoulder here and push and pull on the upper traps. My inner hand is gliding through the rhomboids, my fingertips are curled to maintain some pressure.

I can use my fingertips here to ring back and forth through the ESGs (Erector Spinae Group), one side at a time. So when I'm here over the spine, I feel the spinous process, I'm hooking my fingers and creating a dead stop. That's my anchor. And then with my other hand, I'm pushing tissue into it to get that maximum ripple and squeeze, and then my hands trade places and I do it again.

Just like that. All of my injuries happened either in massage school or in my first couple months of practice, and I'm still trying to nurture those injuries. It's so important to pay attention to your own body and prioritize working sustainably, even if it means that this massage is a little less perfect, even if it interrupts your flow a little bit to go change the table height, it is worth it to protect yourself. Definitely some tightness here in paraspinals, going from lumbar ESGs into QL (Quadratus Lumborum), and a little bit I think of iliolumbar ligament tension as well. So I want to drop into that using my fingertips, and now, because my pressure isn't aimed across the body but down into the body, I will actually stand up. My wrists are at a pretty neutral angle and I can lean in to leverage some pressure into the paraspinals here and I'll hold... she's taking nice breaths, we're going to give it a minute to release.

If I really want to do some good upper traps work, I can take her arm off the side of the table and off the top of the table, and then with her arm comfortably flexed and rotated like this, the upper traps are nice and shortened, and I can easily dip in here and do some really good work. I can even go through upper traps to get to supraspinatus sitting on the top edge of the scapula here. If I go past it into this pocket and lift up towards the ceiling, now I'm on subscapularis, I'm actually on the front surface of the shoulder blade. Slide under the rotator cuff, dip underneath the scapula, so even with that I feel some twitching and muscle activation as it responds to this pressure. I have the shoulder blade here by two points, the top and lateral edge, and I can lift up to the ceiling to decompress it. This can be really tender, we don't get a lot of touch here, we have a lot of shortness here and we rarely ever stretch it, so start slow, start broad, be gentle, and give it some time to open up. [Music]

So tight. And now we have lats and these muscles pulling up from the low back to go across the shoulder, so I can engage with all of those by planting my hand here leaning in, and I'm creating more tension on this bottom hand as I pull the tissue away.

When I release this hand, it's going to take all this tissue I've pushed away and bring it back, so I'm going to be feeding slack in. So making it taut was helpful for me to find the restriction, and now I can bring slack back in and it'll be easier for me to treat the restriction.

So using my two hands to pancake the edge of the rotator cuff here, I'm just going to roll it around. I can dip my thumbs in there and do some muscle rolling, lifting and twisting it... Pressure okay? (Mmhm)


Okay. And here I feel posterior deltoid is right on the surface and very tight... Going to fix the angle of my wrist there... and because this is such thin tissue on top of the shoulder blade, I'm really just using my thumbs, we don't need a ton of pressure, but with my thumbs there leaning in a little I can do some really good work. [Music] Usually there's a nice juicy trigger point in infraspinatus so I'm kind of feeling see if I can find--yep, there we go, taut band, and I'll follow that taut band along its length to find that little kernel, and that little rice kernel, try right there, that's the trigger point that we're going to hang out on.

So we can also work on the hip in this position. Now when we're seated, you can see if I just put my palm on the hip I have a pretty sharp angle there, that's not going to feel so good on my wrists. But I can make a fist and then my wrist will be straight and aligned. All I have to do is lean in and I can easily apply some some nice deep pressure. There's a bagel of soft tissue in between the hipbone and the tailbone and I can just stamp my fists through that.


So sitting at the head of the table I can easily do neck and scalp. I can drag up through the back of the neck and loop behind the ear, we have a lot of muscle attachments all on the mastoid process and the end of the skull. And also above the ear we have the temporalis here, so there's--there's lymph nodes here--there's a lot of really good soft tissue work to be done right here. And it feels really nice, really good for relaxation. [Music]

We can do some little circles with fingertips just shifting that tissue fluffing it up, I can do both sides

together, and if I stand up I have a good angle here to get into temporalis and I can do the front and back of the ear from this position,

even kind of sliding my hands down on the inside of the face cradle to really get the tendon of temporalis, this is a really nice position.

[Music] Some levator scapulae tension here, from that inner corner of the shoulder blade going into the neck, so I can scoop my thumb up under, squeeze with my top fingers, and apply some pressure to both of those.

I'm just leaning back now get my fingertips into the laminar groove on the back of the neck, all the way up to the suboccipitals where I can hook my fingertips in and apply a gentle traction, kind of lifting her head off her spine. As I lose my grip there, I slide around the ears, I get into temporalis and again I can hook that bottom edge of temporalis, lean back...

If you remember nothing else from this video, anytime you look at your wrists and see that they're bent at 90°, that's your sign that you need to sit down, or take a deep squat, or raise the table. The idea is your hands lead and your body follows by getting into a position that let let your wrists be at a neutral angle. Ultimately the best body mechanics are going to be the most varied body mechanics: if I always used my thumbs they'd wear out so fast, if I always used my elbow I'd get golfer's elbow so quickly. The same with always sitting down or always standing up. So one of the best ways you can improve your longevity as a therapist is to learn lots of different techniques, and one of the best ways to do that is by subscribing to this channel and watching this video next.

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