Massage for Low Back Pain
Have low back aches and discomfort become the painful focus of your day? You can try over the counter muscle relaxant or anti-inflammatory medications to provide some measure of temporary relief, but for more lasting results, massage therapy comes highly recommended. It can be extremely helpful in cases of both acute and chronic low back pain to relax muscle spasm and decrease pain.
What Causes Your Low Back Pain?
Many circumstances, including being overweight, being out of shape, emotional stress or even having a severe cough or sneezing, can lead to low back pain and discomfort. Some activities such as lifting heavy objects can directly and adversely affect lumbar muscles responsible for pelvic stability and structural alignment.
A massage therapy specialist may be able to brief you on the causes of back pain but in most cases medical practitioners are needed to identify the underlying causes in some patients. However, in 8 out of 10 cases the main cause is the straining, stretching, or tearing of the ligaments in muscles. An abrupt onset of pain is likely dude to torn muscles, stretched or torn ligaments, or spinal disc problems (often referred to as a slipped disc). A slipped disc is a painful condition that occurs when pressure is added to the discs between the bones of the vertebrae causing it to tear or bulge. It may also cause the cartilaginous plates, which attach the spinal cord to the discs, to press on the nerve tissues, causing excruciating pain.
Medical issues that weaken bones and affect muscles in the body; like osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, and fibromyalgia, may also cause lower back pain. Temporary back pain is also common among pregnant women due to changes in body weight or the structure of muscles and ligaments. Lower back pain can also occur if the baby’s head presses against the spinal cord’s nerve tissues.
Other causes involve poor posture and obesity. In rare cases conditions like tumors, kidney infections, spinal infections, pneumonia, appendicitis, ulcers and other stomach issues, might cause back pain.
Here are a few low back pain triggers:
- improper posture, like sitting slumped in a chair
- sitting in the same position for long periods of time
- leaning over something while lifting (picking up groceries out of a car trunk, for instance)
- repeated bending or crouching
- prolonged leaning (as over a sink while washing the dishes)
- extreme physical exertion
- running on uneven pavement
Be sure to consult your physician to rule out the need for medical treatment, because there are many other more serious causes for low back pain. These include spinal fractures, infections and tumor. Also, deep tissue massage may not be recommended for acute low back strain with severely inflamed muscles which need to be gently treated before any assertive massage techniques can be administered.
Easing Low Back Pain With Massage
In many occasions, your massage therapist will use a combination of stroking, compression, and kneading massage techniques to help relax your muscles. For chronic or recurrent low back pain, deep tissue massage and transverse friction techniques may be employed to decrease tissue adhesions and address deeper muscle tightness. Generally, one to two massage sessions weekly are recommended in order to achieve best initial results.
Communication will play a vital role in ensuring you get the most out of the sessions. The applied pressure should never be overly painful. So, let the therapist know if it is too much or too little; and if the pain seems to be getting better or worse. A good therapist will listen and adjust the technique accordingly.
How Massage Therapy Helps to Improve Low Back Pain
Many patients have reported improvements in dealing with lower back pain after visiting a trained massage therapist.
The greatest benefit massage therapy provides is an increase in endorphin, serotonin and dopamine levels. These “feel good” chemicals are very effective in managing chronic pain. Other benefits you derive may include:
- reduce depression and anxiety
- improve sleep from muscle relaxation
- improve range of motion
- improve blood circulation to carry oxygen to muscles
- improve lymphatic flow to remove wastes and toxins
- relieve muscle soreness
Benefits may vary with each patient so it’s recommended that you visit a medical practitioner before searching for a massage therapy service provider.
Your massage therapist may suggest that you seek other medical treatments like chiropractic care or physical therapy for better results. Many massage therapy experts work in conjunction with an interdisciplinary healthcare body to provide patients with effective treatment and evaluations.
When it comes to low back pain, there are ways to effectively manage this common complaint so it doesn’t ruin your quality of life. Most healthcare providers such as chiropractic doctors recognize massage therapy as a legitimate aid for lower back pain and an effective adjunct to conventional lower back pain treatments.