How to massage away the pain under the ribs when breathing?

When I was in fourth year high school, our physical education teacher had us boys play boxing to select players that would be chosen to represent our school in the provincial games.

My name was called to try it out. So, I boxed with one of the boys under a different advisory class. At the sixth and last round, we boxed hard and we gave all we got. I didn’t know how to box, but I think I was able to hurt my opponent. Our instructor called “stop” at the end of the fight, so, I stopped and put down my guard; however, my opponent took the chance to give me a punch on my left side, hitting my rib cage. I was hurt, and almost lost all oxygen inside my lungs.

I suffered from pain for more than two months. I cannot breathe deeply because a sudden sharp pain stabbed me under my left ribs. I cannot carry bags with my left hand. During that time, I massaged the top of my ribs until the pain subsided. I was able to carry weights again; but once in awhile, the pain of breathing deeply hurt. When I worked hard, the pain got worse also.

The pain was on and off – when I felt the pain, I massaged the top of my ribs until the pain eased up. That repeated for a year until I was in college.

One time, when my breathing was truly bothering, I again massaged the top of my ribs until the pain was gone and I could breathe without the pain. However, this time I went further. I started to give a little drumming on my ribs, using the four fingers of my right hand. As I drummed my ribs, I felt sharp pain inside, under the rib cages and it rather stopped my breathing. I repeated the process for a few more days until I no longer felt any sign of pain each time I thumped the top of my ribs.

A year after treating myself of the problem, our neighbor fell on their steps and landed on his ribs. He took anti-inflammation, and pain reliever pills, but two months after the incident and he stopped taking the pain reliever, he felt pain when he was breathing, and could not breathe deeply.

I noticed he was in trouble, so I asked him what the matter was. He told me the story of what happened to him. He was drunk at the time, and was dark at night, so he was not able to control his balance and fell on their steps – hitting something with his ribs, or landed with it and that was the result.

I offered my service, and applied what I did to solve my problem before. In a week, he was so thankful that everything was okay.

How is it done?

1. Let us assumed your left side is the one hurting. When you breath, it feels like the
diaphragm couldn’t fully expand and a needle-like-prick pain is felt under the ribs.

2. At first day, massage the top of your ribs by applying effleurage or plain rubbing. Use any kind of oil to make the thumb or fingers glide freely on the skin, and to have control of the pain to a level you can tolerate.

3. After two days or more, when the feeling is much better that you can tolerate a heavier
pressure, try to thump/tap the top of your ribs with the four fingers of your right hand and
see how much pain you can tolerate. Wait a few seconds between each tap, and always take a deep breath to feel how much degree of pain you would feel in connection to your breathing. (You can do this on the first treatment if you like depending on the pain you could tolerate)

4. At first, when the injury under the ribs are still not healed, the pain may stopped your
breathing or make you grimace, however do not worry, as days go on the problem will slowly

5. As the problem improves, try to use the heel of your left hand to “drum” the top of your ribs in addition, observe for a “thin sharp” pain deep inside under the ribs. When you don’t feel any pain using the heel of your left hand, it indicates the injury completely healed.


6. To check if everything is fine, try breathing as deep as you can and observe for any pain
under the ribs, and how is your breathing.

This is a very important procedure to learn, because even after taking medicines prescribed by your doctor, the trouble will not completely go away. Furthermore, you might be mistakenly diagnosed for heart problem, angina pectoris, and or other kinds of unconnected problems, especially when the problem will not show on X-rays, or blood tests.

Save yourself of many hassles. If you know you had an accident of falling and hurt your ribs, be sure to tell and discuss it with your doctor, and use this technique for supplement or first aid.

The time of healing, when the procedure is done correctly will take a week to one month, depending on the degree of injury one has.

When to stop using the technique?

Stop it when you feel no more pains; however, stop when you feel that the pain is getting worse and there is no improvement at all. However, you should feel an immediate improvement and pain should be gone or minimal within two to three days from the day you started therapy.

What do you think?


  • Hi I came across your blog. As a licensed massage therapist I would advise to seek out a doctor first before you massage anyone. See what the doctor says after he sees the patient. I know your intentions may be good BUT you can harm someone by massaging without knowing . Hurting ribs can be bruised, fractured or cracked and ALOT of pain! Seek a doctor out first! 🤗

    • Hello Melissa, thank you for the advice/reminder. I have been doing massage since I was a kid, though I started seriously in 1988 to do massage therapy. As experienced massage therapist you already know when a problem is serious that needs a doctor’s attention or not. I understand that Americans are so worried touching people who are in pains without doctor’s approval. That’s because you learned it from school and “Inexperienced teachers.”

      We, Filipinos are different. Here poor people always seek massage therapy{Ilot in our local term} or the attention of massage therapists as first aid before going to the doctor. I grew up in the farm. Here, if you don’t own the land financial is a problem hence your last option when you are physically hurting is going to the doctor. And I experienced almost all kinds of common physical pains, such as, backpain, leg pains, fever, and more. And when I was older in my 20s I worked in constructions where I practiced with my co-workers (Carpenters, masons, laborers, etc) but thank the Lord for all those experiences became as my basis of understanding and relating to the pains of my “Patients.”

      In this case, if you’re a seasoned massage therapist you can distinguish between a bruised ribs(very receptive to massage therapy) and a fractured ribs(which needs immediate medical treatment).

      I tell you, massage is a very powerful tool to prevent pains and sickness, treat it pains and sickness(when you learned advance ways to use it for treatment) given by God to man. The trouble is greed pushed it in a corner and painted it as unscientific unproven practice of quacks.

      May you be Bless by the Lord of all Healers and give you wisdom to learn more about the power of massage. Thank you for your time

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