Sports Massage for Lower Back Muscle Strains

Basic sports massage techniques for the lower back which can help relax the muscles and improve their overall condition following a muscle strain.

Sports Massage

The following is for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice.

Technique 1: Effleurage

  • These are light stroking techniques applied with the whole of the hand. The aim is to cover a large surface area with light, smooth movements that are not hurried. Pressure can be gradually increased as the massage progresses.
  • Effleurage should be used at the start of any massage to warm the area, spread the oil, acclimatise the athlete and relax the muscles before the deeper techniques.
  • With the hands stroke lightly but firmly upwards from the bottom of the back all the way to the neck.
  • Always stroke upwards towards the heart as this is the direction of blood flow. The other way can damage veins.
  • Then lightly bring the hands down the outside of the back keeping them in contact but do not apply pressure.
  • Repeat the whole movement trying to cover as much of the surface of the back as possible. Repeat this technique for about 3 to 5 minutes, gradually applying deeper pressure on the up strokes.

Technique 2: Petrissage

  • Apply circular kneading movements to the whole of the back area.
  • Aim to cover as much of the area with the hands as possible.
  • Apply for 2 to 5 minutes and alternate with effleurage techniques to break up techniques.

Technique 3: Stripping upper gluteal muscles

  • With the thumb apply sustained pressure along the top of the buttocks.
  • Start near the sacrum and continue round to the hip.
  • Repeat 3 to 10 times.

Technique 4: Circular frictions

  • Apply small circular frictions to the errector spinae muscles either side of the lower spine.
  • Work from the bottom upwards finishing at top of the lumbar spine (roughly where the thumbs are in image 4.
  • This technique can also be applied all the way up the spine if preferred.

Technique 5: Stripping the errector spinae muscles

  • With the thumb of the right hand (for the left hand side of the spine) or the thumb of the left hand (for the right hand side of the spine) apply slow, sustained pressure along the full length of the errector spinae muscles.
  • repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • This technique can be reinforced with the fingers for additional control and pressure.
  • This stripping technique can also be applied to the lower back only. Moving slightly outwards it can be applied deeper to the quadratus lumborum muscle which goes from the top of the pelvis to the bottom of the rib cage.
  • This is a common muscle to become tight and greatly benefits from deep massage.

Technique 6: Spinal process frictions

  • Start at the very base of the spine on one side. Gradually feel the spinus processes up the spine applying short frictions up and down to the muscles that attach to the sides of the prominent bony protrusions.

Technique 7: Ironing

  • With both hands apply a smooth technique transversely across the back aiming to cover as much of the surface as possible with the hands.
  • Start at the bottom of the back and work up.
  • This is a petrissage technique that can be mixed in at any point.

Finishing off

  • Any of the above techniques can be repeated or mixed around as required.
  • Finish the massage with petrissage techniques and finally light effleurage as you started with.