Medical Massage Has Changed My Life

woman medical massage

I’ve had more than 200 massages in my life. The most recent two have changed my life more than the other ones combined. The difference? My masseuse knows medical massage.

I sit here with a relaxed back that feels good. Now I can exercise without fear of crippling headaches the next day or two from muscle tension. I feel better, and stronger, and free from pain. But let’s rewind to where I was just two weeks ago.

A typical day for me has been one of upper back discomfort and tension. Just walking around the neighborhood, I roll my neck and shift my shoulders frequently trying to get comfortable. Anything but the lightest workout is scary, because I know if I overdo it, I’ll ruin at least a day or two of my life due to crippling pain and headaches. As such, my fitness goals feel impossible, and the strong exercise habit I’ve built taunts me. I want to work out, but now I can’t? How frustrating!

Due to back pain and horrible tension headaches, I’ve recently sought massage (among many other things) for relief. Even a bad massage feels good, and seems to help some. Good massages help a lot more, but they’ve never been able to fully release my always-tight upper back.

My back has been so tight that multiple times I’ve asked masseuses to provide more pressure, only to be told, “I’m giving everything I’ve got.” I’ve been told this by very strong masseuses! One masseuse even named a knot in my back “Jeffrey.” You only name a knot if he’s going to be there for a while. But Jeffrey’s gone now.

My First Medical Massage

A week ago, I had a massage that was different in technique and result. I had booked a standard deep tissue massage with a new masseuse, but I got a lot more than that. My masseuse felt one of the stubborn knots in my back and told me she was “going to get that out.” Yeah, right. No masseuse ever got my knots out!

Then she explained the strange process that was about to happen. “Scraping.” She didn’t have her official scraping tools with her because it’s a massage chain and they didn’t allow them for liability purposes. The fact that this was new and different gave me a little bit of hope, and lucky for me, that hope wasn’t misplaced.

Using a towel, she “scraped” the skin on my back. How bizarre. I asked her what she used, because it felt like she was dragging a rock across my back. But it was just the end of a towel. It wasn’t comfortable, but not super painful either. I’d call it a mild burning sensation. She said it would increase blood flow to the area. I was skeptical at this point.

After scraping the area near my shoulder blades (knot HQ), she began the painful part. I couldn’t see exactly what she did as I was face down, but it felt like she was bunching my skin up and “plucking” my muscle away from the bone. Weird, I know. I could actually hear a kind of popping sound, which I thought came from her hands, but she said it was my body! The sensation was very strange, and at times very painful. But it felt profound.

The technical term for what she did is called myofascial release. She wasn’t releasing the muscle itself, but rather the fascia that encases the muscle. (Read more about muscle fascia here.)

Just a few minutes later, she began working on the knot, and to my complete shock, it actually released. It went from very painful to… gone. Mind you, this knot had been there for years, surviving numerous massages, and now it just… relaxed?

I felt it release, and I couldn’t believe it. I started asking her questions.

“Did that knot just release?”


“Why couldn’t any previous masseuses do that?”

They don’t have training in medical massage, only therapeutic. They try to go deep into the muscle immediately without releasing the fascia first, which is somewhat useless.

The Aftermath of My First Medical Massage

It took my body 2-3 days to recover. I was very sore in the areas she worked. And I should mention that it was the most painful massage I’ve ever had. To give you an idea, when she worked the scapula area, I forcefully gripped the table with my other hand and occasionally kicked my feet like a kid having a temper tantrum. But don’t get me wrong, it was the best massage I’ve ever had, too.

It hurt, yes, but it simultaneously felt so good and so important. It makes sense, as she was releasing muscles that had been painfully contracted for years. They weren’t going to let up without some amount of fight.

In the week after the massage, my back felt normal. When I pulled my shoulders back, I couldn’t feel the knots that had always been there for the last few years.

One of the more interesting results of this has been increased strength. I told my friend that it had felt like a giant fishing hook was in my back during workouts, and now it was removed. My strength and mobility have increased remarkably, and perhaps most exciting of all, I feel like I can push myself without fear of tension headaches the next day. I can’t fully express how disheartening it was to be punished by my own body for trying to take care of it.

Now I’m excited to build strength, including in my back, which will better support my spine and help my posture. Previously, it felt like walking a tightrope—I had to exercise my back to strengthen it, but not too much or it would lead to pain.

A Week Later: My Second Massage

A week later, I returned for a 90 minute session. This time, she didn’t do scraping and myofascial release because it wasn’t needed. She did more of a standard deep tissue massage, and it worked beautifully. More knots were released, and my upper back and neck haven’t felt this good in years.

It seems that the myofascial release lets traditional deep tissue massage actually work. I’m sure I will need more massages in the future, so this isn’t a one-time cure. But in another way, it is. The condition of my back is permanently better now because it took years for that tension to build and the fascia to tighten to painful levels. Now that it’s been released, I will feel a permanent increase in quality of life, especially if I continue stretching as she heartily recommends.

How to Find a Life-Changing Medical Masseuse

After this most recent session, I asked her how someone could find someone like her. I had in fact been looking for her for years without success, going through the roulette wheel of masseuses. I’ve had some very good masseuses throughout the years, of course, but none addressed my problem. None released my muscle fascia.

She told me the distinguishing word was “medical.” Medical massage, not deep tissue, or therapeutic, or Swedish. Being in the commercial massage system, I thought it was just a choice between deep tissue, Swedish, hot stones, and the like. I hadn’t even heard of medical massage even though I needed it!

The difference is that unlike therapeutic massage, medical massage is outcome-based massage. You have a specific problem that needs to be address, whether it’s injury recovery or chronic pain and tightness like I had.

As with other forms of massage, the skill, expertise, and experience of your masseuse will factor greatly into your results. After this experience, I found it imperative to tell as many people as possible about this type of massage. If you have chronic muscle pain in your back, look into medical massage.

I’ve read online that medical massage is often prescribed by your general practitioner, but not once in my life has my GP done that despite going to several doctors for my issues. More commonly, they would prescribe physical therapy, in which I would do exercises to strengthen the back. Those seemed to help to some degree, but they didn’t release the fascia.

The cause of back pain varies, of course, so this is not a solution for all back problems, but in the case that your back issues are from tight muscles and fascia, this could be life changing. It already has been for me.

It's Free to Subscribe

Free book - 10% Off Coupon - Newsletter

Share this article

Shopping Cart

Subscribe for

Updates & Gifts!

No spam. Easy unsubscribe. Life-changing newsletter!


Subscribe for all bonus content

I send my newsletter every Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM.


Instant Access


Read Part One of

Mini Habits

500,000 copies sold. 21 languages.

This book can change your life.

Start reading it now for free!

No thanks


You will also be subscribed to my excellent newsletter.

Unsubscribe easily anytime.

Scroll to Top