Lower Back Pain and Massage

Back pain is a very common ailment for moms, gardeners, mechanics, weekend sports warriors, and those who sit a lot. Most back pain sufferers have tried traditional pain relief like muscle rub creams, muscle relaxant pills, chiropractors, and even physical therapy. If your pain is still nagging you, massage should be something you are willing to investigate.

The American Massage Therapy Association found in 2001 that massage clients have doubled since 1997. Healthcare professionals are recognizing the value of massage therapy and recommending to their patients to include massage therapy as part of their pain management treatment plan. As much as 54% of healthcare professionals, are in favor of using massage therapy, in additional to more traditional treatments.

There was a study on back pain and massage therapy conducted in 2001 at the University of Miami that found that massage does lessen lower back pain, depression, anxiety and improved sleep. It also showed that massage improved range of motion and improved serotonin and dopamine levels (as reported in the International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145).

Research shows that massage has the following benefits to those who suffer from back pain:

    It improves blood circulation, which aids in the relief of sore muscles from physical activity

    It relaxes muscles so that range of motion can be improved

    Relaxation also improves sleep, which can be a problem for those who suffer from back pain

    It increases endorphin levels. These endorphins are chemicals that the body produces to make you feel good, which helps to manage pain.

The massage therapy that has been the most beneficial to lower back pain sufferers has been “neuromuscular therapy“. This therapy is also called “trigger point myotherapy“. This is useful for those who suffer back pain as a result of muscle strain.

Trigger Point

The technique uses alternating levels of concentrated pressure for the areas of spasming muscles. The therapists uses the fingers, knuckles and elbow to apply the pressure. The pressure should not vary for ten to thirty seconds, once applied to a spasm. When someone is suffering from back spasms the muscles are painful to the touch.

The muscle is lacking in blood flow, which causes the pain. The blood brings oxygen to the muscle and without proper oxygen the muscle produces lactic acid. The lactic acid makes hte muscle feel sore after physical activity. Massage relaxes the muscle which in turn, releases the lactic acid from the muscle. Now the muscle should be receiving more blood and thus more oxygen. This massage will feel painful at first until the lactic acid is released from the muscle.

The therapist will respond to the physical level of pain as experienced by the client. The therapist will adjust the pressure based on what the client tells them. The massage should never be overly painful. The client will usually describe the pain as being a “good pain” when describing the pressure.

The saying, “it hurts so good” comes to mind. The client should experience a fading of soreness following the therapy after 24 to 36 hours has passed. Muscles should remain relaxed following therapy for 4 to 14 days, depending on the amount of muscle stress experienced, your activity level and the severity of your pain level prior to the massage.