Back Pain and Massage
Have you ever experienced a stabbing sensation when you’ve picked up something heavy? Does your back ache when you’ve sat too long at your desk? Do you feel stiff after gardening or remodeling? If so, you are not alone. Next to the common cold, back pain is the most common complaint heard at the doctor’s office. Research and experience show that massage is a safe and effective treatment that can help your back heal and prevent further injury. With massage, common-sense self-care measures and appropriate medical care, your pain can recede and your back can become stronger and more flexible.
Pain in Your Back
Our modern lifestyle is frequently the culprit in back pain. Long hours of sitting at work, home or in cars can lead to an imbalance between muscles that are weak and those that are chronically contracted. On top of that, tension and fatigue in back muscles are often aggravated by the stress and strain of a busy and demanding life. Tight, weak or tired back muscles are vulnerable to injury anytime you overdo it, at the gym or in the yard, for instance. Sometimes it doesn’t take much. A sudden jerk or mild twist can cause lingering pain. Other factors that increase the likelihood of developing back pain include physically demanding work, pregnancy, trauma from accidents or falls, poor postural habits and improper lifting. Conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis can also contribute to back pain.
Massage for Back Pain
Massage is well known for kneading away tension and relieving pain in muscles that are injured or in spasm. It also relieves discomfort in surrounding areas that may be tightening up or 'guarding' in response to pain. Massage improves circulation, increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helping in the reduction of swelling and accumulated toxins that can cause irritation. When swelling and irritation are reduced, injured muscles and ligaments can heal faster with less discomfort. Finally, because massage promotes flexibility, movement can feel more comfortable right away and the likelihood of future injury is often reduced.
The Role of Alignment
Sudden trauma or chronically shortened muscles and fascia (connective tissue that ties the parts of the body together) can pull your joints out of alignment. If this is not addressed, you may have trouble healing. By stretching, lengthening and releasing shortened muscles and fascia, massage can help your body return to normal alignment. You may also be referred to a chiropractor, osteopath or physical therapist to help correct your alignment. Massage will complement those treatments by relieving chronic tension, leading to more effective and longer lasting results.
Stress and Emotions
Research has shown that people experiencing anxiety and depression can have significantly increased low back pain. Simply feeling stressed or emotionally overwrought seems to heighten sensitivity to pain. Discomfort that may have been merely an annoyance can begin to seriously affect daily life. With massage, your focus turns to pleasurable sensations, allowing your mind as well as your body to deeply relax. As relaxation increases and your nervous system calms, mental stress decreases and pain can fade away. A return to moving more freely with less pain may improve your state of mind, which in itself contributes to healing.