How to Give a Back Massage Sitting Up: Massage Techniques 101

How to Give a Back Massage Sitting Up Massage Techniques 101
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Massage therapy dates back centuries and is used all over the world, and in various types of medicine.

Numerous techniques and methods are used in massage, and each of them has their benefits and downfalls.

For the sake of this article, we looked at the benefits of and provided instructions to giving a therapeutic seated massage so that the next time you ask how to give a back massage sitting up, you know what to do. 

How to Give a Complete Seated Back Massage?

Using massage therapy is a highly effective way to alleviate the pain that stems from the neck and shoulders. In addition to pain, the procedure is also helpful in easing headaches, assisting with sleep, promoting blood circulation, and boosting your mood.

However, there might come a time where laying your massage receiver on a table or floor isn’t an option. In cases such as this, providing them with a seated massage is a viable option that has the same benefits as the standard table massage. Here are the steps recommended by most experts:

How to Give a Complete Seated Back Massage

Step One: Positioning the Receiver

Ensure that your receiver is in a comfortable, seated position where their back is straight, and you can access their shoulders. Using a stool or having them sit on a cushion on the floor is preferred, but a chair can be used as long as you can reach their upper back.

Step Two: Initial Kneading

Start applying firm, but not intense pressure at the back of the receiver’s neck. You can use your thumbs to knead the muscles in circular motions. It’s important to remember to keep the pressure light at the beginning, as delving into a deep tissue massage right away might damage the nerves. As you begin to feel knots, you can focus more pressure in those spots.

Step Three: Continuous Kneading

Warm the back, shoulders, and neck up by using your fingers and thumbs. Sweeping your fingers over those three areas gently is going to lull your receiver into a relaxing state of mind, which helps with easing the tension in the muscles. Make sure you keep your pressure even while gliding your fingers along the back and shoulders and up the length of their neck.

Step Four: Releasing Tension Knots

Use your thumbs to apply more pressure against the areas where you notice tension knots. Your free hand needs to be placed at the front of your receiver’s shoulder to ensure their posture remains straight and your thumbs are stabilized. Move your thumb in small, firm, circular motions to release the knot.

What Are the Benefits of a Seated Massage

Step Five: Pinching

The muscles in the back, shoulders, and neck carry a lot of tension. Once you’ve relieved the majority of the knots, you can begin pinching along the back of the neck and shoulders while using your thumbs to work along the back. It’s best to do one side at a time.

Step Six: Focusing on Larger Muscles

Pressing all four of your fingertips and kneading in large circular motions is a great way to relax larger muscles in the receiver’s shoulder blades and upper back. Make sure to take your time and focus on one side at a time.

Step Seven: Taking Care of the Spine

Massaging in between the receiver’s shoulder blades can prove to be difficult, but the spine is an important area to focus on during massage therapy. You can use the heel of your palm to press between their shoulder blades and apply firm pressure in long strokes. Ensure that one hand is keeping your receiver stable and straight.

Bonus Tip

Make sure that you use all parts of your hand while massaging your receiver in a seated position. Overusing your thumbs can cause discomfort, so it’s best to use them when applying focused pressure to relieve knots. Your palms are best used for light pressure on larger areas, and your knuckles can be used for very tight muscles. 

What Are the Benefits of a Seated Massage?

There are a few benefits that come with providing seated massages, and they don’t only benefit those who are unable to lie down and/or confined to a wheelchair. Regardless of who you give a seated massage to, here are the benefits you can expect:

Posture: Receiving a vertical, seated massage helps with the alignment of the spine. In the position, your posture is straight with your shoulders over the rib cage. Proper posture and alignment assist with lulling you into deep relaxation and helps with properly relieving tension in the muscles.

Breathing: Sitting upright enables you to breathe deeply and accurately. Since your ribcage is in an ideal position, your breathing passage isn’t obstructed, and air can pass through your lungs freely. Adequate airflow not only helps with relaxation, but it can also put you into a meditative state and lower your pulse rate.

Accessibility: When giving a seated massage, it’s easier to access specific areas that might be more challenging while lying down. You cannot just quickly provide massages to the back but also the head, neck, shoulders, legs, and feet. 


There you have it! Now you know how to give a back massage sitting up, and understand some of the benefits that come with providing one. Whether or not you are the receiver or the provider, always keep in mind that pressure is everything.

If you experience discomfort during your massage, immediately notify your masseuse. If you are giving the massage, it’s your responsibility not only to take notice of tense muscles but to pick up on signs of discomfort from your client.

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