How To Do Simple Skin Rolling Massage For Back Pain

Simple Skin Rolling Massage For Back Pain

   I want to share a very easy and effective method for relieving back pain. When I mentioned to my doctor that my back hurts, he told me to come in the next time it happens. I did, and he did this tissue-rolling thing and showed me how to do it myself. What he did was grab a the skin and kind of pinch-and-roll it. This releases what he called "glued-together" or tight fascia. Later on when I did the skin-roll massage on my partner, I could feel with my fingers exactly where the fascia felt extremely tight.
   The skin rolling massage is quick to do very very effective, much more effective than the kneading of muscles (as done by an untrained masseuse).

How skin rolling massage works:

   Back pain is often caused by fascia that are tightened or "glued together" as my doctor says.  Fascia is a sticky web off connective tissue right under the skin. It is wrapped around each muscle, it connects everything and keeps everything in shape. Until very recently, not much was known about it, although ancient techniques like Yoga work on the fascia. Here is what fascia looks like:

   In the video you can see how fascia gets tight and glues in some places. This feels like pain and tightness in the shoulders, neck and back. Certain kinds of stretches and massages can loosen up the tight fascia and really help with back pain.
   Now, glued fascia is an effect of things like a bad mattress, lifting things without using the proper posture and technique. You'll obviously have to address these. The massage I'm talking about in this post is just for relief.

How to do the skin rolling massage:

   The "patient" lies on his stomach.  The massaging person -- using the fingertips of both hands -- pinches a roll of skin on one side of the spine, just above the butt. And then slowly and deliberately rolls it in direction of the shoulders. Imagine a wave of skin that starts just above the butt and goes up to the shoulders. Do the same on the other side of the spine. Repeat 2-3 times.
   Don't pinch the muscles, just the skin. And don't use lubricant.

Here is an explanation:

  Here is a similar technique starting at 3:17. Here the guy takes time to roll every place back and forth. My doc simply went firmly but much faster from base of spine to the top:

   The  person who is doing the rolling can feel with their fingers which parts of the fascia tissue feel really tight and which are relaxed. The patient will find the rolling quite painful in the tight parts, but completely painless in the relaxed parts.

   If you don't have anyone to roll your back, you can try to do your own neck and shoulders if you are flexible. Or try foam rolling, it can have a similar (but weaker) effect. The best way is with a tennis ball (or a ball or dumbbell-shaped foam roller if you have one) against the wall.

   To keep your fascia happy, stretch your body (the stretches in Yoga which are held for a couple of minutes are especially good for fascia), stay hydrated and move your body. Epsom salt baths also relax the fascia.

   Have you ever tried skin rolling?Let me know if you do!
Photo credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini

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