Skip to Content

How to Give A Back Massage


A back massage

increases blood flow to the skin and muscles. It helps ease pain and stiffness. A back massage can help prevent problems, such as skin breakdown or pressure sores.

How to give a back massage:

You can use lotion, cocoa butter, oil, or lanolin for a massage.

  • Put a small amount of warm lotion or oil on your hands. Rub your hands together so the lotion is spread evenly on your hands.
  • Move your hands slowly during the massage to help the person relax.
  • Start massaging the back at the lower back. Move your hands upward on both sides of the spine all the way to the shoulders.
  • Make a circular motion as you move your hands upward. Press a bit more firmly with your thumbs as you make the circles.
  • Move across the shoulders and start moving down the upper arms. Use less pressure as you move downward.
  • Ask if you are applying too much or too little pressure as you massage. Ask the person to tell you if he feels pain in any area. Do not massage a painful area, or massage it very gently
  • Apply more lotion on your hands as needed.

Other tips about a back massage:

  • Check the person's skin for any sores or redness before you start the massage.
  • Use good body mechanics while you give the massage. This will help protect the muscles of your own back, shoulders, and arms.
  • Stop massaging an area if the person says they feel numbness or tingling in their arms or legs.
  • Stop using lotion if it causes a rash or itching.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about How to Give A Back Massage (Ambulatory Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.