The word pain is a relative term. It means many things to many people. Everyone’s threshold for pain is different. One person might have signs of pain but never feel the symptoms of pain. Others show no signs after many tests, yet can be in constant agony. Pain is personal and we experience it differently. As Massage Therapists we are in the business of treating pain. We see it on many levels. We also feel it on many levels with our hands.

We look for signs of swelling, heat, redness and its overall reaction to our touch. Listening and waiting for changes within the tissue help us assess and treat pain. We feel its important to ask our clients of their symptoms. Symptoms help with us with the type of Massage we will use.

Once you tune into your body you will understand acute pain from chronic pain. You will learn when to take care of yourself and when to see your doctor. Learning how to keep your body pain free will be the most power tool you will have.


mybackqlBack pain and low back pain have many causes. Spasms of the quadratus lumborum (see photo below) is the muscle to blame in this case. Spasms are caused by too much sitting, over-lifting, stress, anxiety and fatigue, not to mention bad mattresses. What you experience during a spasm is nerve firing which might feel like a shock and your back ceases up. You can be bending over and on straightening your body, the muscle feels like its going to overstretch and it contracts.

In this case, cphotoontrast applications (explained in detail in our hot/cold therapy page), using both heat and cold therapy will give you enough relief to keep you moving with less pain. The video below will explain how you can massage your own back to alleviate the quadratus muscle and more.

Trigger Points of the low back or back, hurts during rest and/or movement. When you press the Quadratus muscle and you will feel a piercing pain at the exact point of the muscle. If this is so, you have a Trigger Point or points. You can read more about our self massage treatments at our Trigger Point Massage page to help you break them down and correct the cycle of muscle memory.  One of the easiest and safest things to try is self massage treatment. This is  to help you establish the possible cause of your pain and see if you can treat and relieve it permanently.

If you find your pain does not subside or gets worse, please contact your doctor. Sometimes, bulging discs or other serious conditions need to be ruled out. However, your run of the mill back pain will be tremendously helped by stretching, massage, massage treatment tools, heat/cold therapy and topical medications.

Even if your not up for massaging your back pain right now, using ice to massage your back is a very effective way to treat your low back pain. We found an amazing tool called Pro-Tec Athletics Ice-Up Portable Ice Massager that is easy use and easy on your wallet.


Tension Headaches are the most common type of headaches and occur when the neck and scalp tense. Symptoms include fatigue, irritability and sensitivity to light. Bad posture can contribute to a tension headache along with stress and worry.

Tip- Rubbing your temples lightly and massaging in front of the ear just below the hairline can help alleviate the pounding. Using pressure on your forehead with both thumbs and massaging your scalp and back of your neck will also help.  Another great tension release technique that saves time is Skin Rolling. Use pressure with your fingertips to grasp the skin and gently pinch while lifting.  Try this on the back of the neck and on your cheeks.

Sinusitis is an infection of the sinus that is cause by virus, bacteria or allergy. I’ve been told many times by my doctor that if my fascial bones and connective tissue weren’t so tight I wouldn’t suffer from sinus infections. Just by relieving the tension in the face and neck we allow our sinuses to drain and do their natural job.

Massaging your own face can be very relaxing and beneficial. It relieves tension, anxiety, headaches, sinus pain, ear pain, and even neck and shoulder pain. The techniques are easy and you might even already do these things with out thinking about it. In case you haven’t here are a few simple tips.

Tip 1. Sinus  Use your thumb on the same side of your face. Then meet your check bone at the place where your nose meets. Use your tip of your thumb and nail (if its short) to lightly carve and press again the bone. Follow the cheekbone all the way to your ear. Repeat again and make sure to stop in the center and hold pressure. Take deep breathes to allow the shift of the connective tissue. You might feel pain and if you do it’s normal. By using pressure you will open us the sinus cavity and release and drain it.

Tip 2. External Ear Pain that is not associated with inflammation of the ear or an infection is more likely caused by tightness in the face, neck and/or head. To alleviate outer or external ear pain you can massage around the back of the ear and hold the entire ear between your pointer and your thumb. This will alleviate external ear pain, jaw pain and neck pain.

Please wash your hands thoroughly before massaging inside the mouth. You can also use latex free gloves which will give you more traction.

Tip 3. Interior Mouth – Pterygoid Trigger Points –The Pterygoid muscle is a tiny muscle at the bottom jaw just near the ear. It actually gets tight from eating and clenching the jaw. Trigger Points and knots are created when its tense. You can get to it by using your fingers to go inside the mouth. Once you reach it with your thumb it feels like a strong tight band and you may experience pain. Gently hold the spot and wait for it to soften and release.

Tip 4. Interior mouth continued You can use your pointer finger to work the outside of the muscle simultaneously. Continue massaging your cheek and work all the way up to the from of your face above your upper lip. You can switch and work the lower mouth the same way. It might help to use a mirror so you can see what you are doing. While on the lower jaw return back to your ear and continue to massage until you feel relief. You can do the same on the other side of your face so you can release your entire jaw. To watch a full treatment protocol video make sure you subscribe at the top of the page. 

TMJ-Jaw Pain – TMJ stands for temporal mandibular joint and pain can radiate through the jaw. It causes difficulty chewing can radiate to the ear, neck and face. When someone is diagnosed with TMJ Syndrome the cause is usually from excessive muscle strain and stress to the joint and muscles. Like in the photos above, the best way to relief trigger points is to use your fingers inside your mouth. With your thumb stretch your cheek as much as you can. For a complete video protocal on treating TMJ through self-massage visit your Self-Care Toolkit.

If you enjoy using workbooks then Trigger Point Therapy for Headaches and Migraines: Your Self -Treatment Workbook for Pain Relief, is the book for you. It’s thorough and explains how to identify and massage Trigger Points to relieve headaches and migraines.




One of the most effective tools to relieve neck pain is the Da Vinci tool. Watch the video below to learn how to get rid of your pain in just minutes.

 For more ways to use the Da Vinci tool click here.

SCM Neck Muscle Pain – is pain that travels up into the head. Besides headache-like pain and pain in the cheek or jaw it has also been linked to eye and sinus problems, inner ear problems, and dizziness. One of the reasons for multiple symptoms is because of the attachment to the mastoid bone which is that bump like area behind the ear and is directly connected to the ear which attaches to the sinuses and eyes.

In  Photo 1,  the SCM is being held between the pointer finger and the thumb. This is a great way to massage the muscle and relieve Trigger Points. You can work your way up and down the SCM to relieve pain in your jaw, pain in your cheek, tension headaches and sinus pain.

In Photo 2, the red dots will help you follow the SCM muscle all the way up to the mastoid bone behind the ear. The Mastoid bone is a great place to massage as it will release the neck, head, ear and sinus cavities of tension and help you work out the Trigger Points. Using heat is a great way to loosen the Myofascial Tissue. When connective tissue is warmed up and softened it releases its hold of the area and the rest of the muscles benefit too, because the tissue is interconnected like a web.  When you reach the clavicle you will find many attachment points to the neck muscles. This will most likely feel tender and you should tread lightly in this area. A light touch will definitely work in releasing tiny knots and Trigger Points that form.  This area may feel bumpy or lumpy over the clavicle bone. Massage the bone by pressing directly down lightly and then moving your fingers left and right while pressing. You can also use the tips of your fingers to go under the clavicle and wiggle the fingers ever so slightly.

In Photo 3, the fingers are pressed and lightly curved underneath the clavicle. This are releases the Scalene muscle and some of the SCM muscle. Make sure to use your fingertips to achieve pain relief.

In Photo 4,  shows you  where the SCM muscle and Clavicle meet. This area can be massaged with your pointer or middle finger with light pressure. You can hold down using pressure and moving your head to the left and right. If the area is tight you will feel sharp pain but, the more you repeat my instructions the looser and less painful it will get.

Photo 1 Photo 2
Photo 3Photo 4

Although most of the above massage treatment has to do with the anterior aka front part of the neck, all of your neck will benefit from the work. We will have more information regarding release of the posterior or back of the neck in the coming weeks. Here are a few tools that will stretch your neck and allow you to relax in comfort while doing so.

Real-Ease Neck and Shoulder Relaxer has been my companion for almost a decade. I have sold many to clients and gifted them to friends. Some clients use it during their massage sessions. The soft foam is comfy and the shape of the plastic raises the neck and immediately releases tension. 

Still Point Inducer Original – Solid Red Foam – Help Relieve Congestion, Headaches, Anxiety, and Overall Tension The first time I used this product was in my Craniosacral class.  Although it is a Craniosacral tool it is loved by many to relieve neck and head tension. It is a hard foam that supports the base of the neck. I have used it and liked its overall result. I would not suggest it if you have bulging discs or sever arthritis of the neck as it may be too hard on the cervical spine.

Craniocradle Home Therapy System This item got rave reviews on Amazon from a Massage Therapist among others. It looks like a great product and similar to others I have tried. The contour area that cradles the head looks comfortable. If you prefer to have your head cradled instead of base of your neck held, then this is the product I would recommend.

Complete Back and Neck Pain Relief Acupressure Set- As seen in Health magazine and USA Today This product comes highly recommended by many clients. I tried it once and loved it. We are trying to find the best maker of this product since there are so many on the market.Amazon has many but we chose the one with the best and most reviews.  In order to get the full benefit of this mat you must be ok with the prickly prongs against your body. They relax muscles and help boost  blood circulation.

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